Participants of ABT-ACTE Russia Forum in Yekaterinburg: “At -36 hospitality warms you best!”

The largest business, scientific and cultural centre of the Ural Federal district, Yekaterinburg, met the participants of “Modern business travel and MICE” forum with a severe frost – thermometers showed -36. But in the delegates` words, they were warmed with hospitality of the inhabitants of the capital of the Urals.

The program of the forum started on Thursday, November 17, with a cocktail at Tenet Hotel that had opened not long ago in the centre of the city. “First of all, the hotel itself was a welcome surprise – great catering and new comfortable halls. Second, we had a chance to meet and talk to colleagues, to have a nice evening. The cocktail was held in an intimate setting with live saxophone”, Aleksandra Berdnikova from MONT noted.

On November 18, educational sessions started at angelo by Vienna House located on the territory of Yekaterinburg airport. This is the first hotel of the city certified by ABT-ACTE Russia. Representatives of the Association of Business Travel and chairman of the External Affairs Committee of Yekaterinburg city administration Maksim Dokuchaev took a greeting word.

Chief Editor of Buying Business Travel Russia Svetlana Denikina spoke about world trends of the travel industry and the state of the Russian business travel market. She presented the annual research carried out by ABT-ACTE Russia – The Yearbook 2016.

“Half of the companies that participated in the survey for The Yearbook 2016 do not have a separate travel department at all”, Svetlana noted. “In many companies travel management experts are part of the administrative department or respond directly to top managers. And sometimes business travel issues are delegated to HR specialists, marketing experts or the procurement department”. At the same time, only very few corporations still do not have a travel policy – about 2,6%, Svetlana said.

In order to cut travel costs many companies (68%) have stared holding video conferences and using other remote communication technologies more frequently. Another 37,5% have limited travel and accommodation classes or toughened their limits.

In about 50% of corporations individual corporate cards were used to pay for services. Centralized payment solutions (for example, BTA by American Express) are not so popular – only 3,9% of companies used them.

Elena Lobanova pointed out the main stages any company had to go through to choose a reliable and a professional provider able to offer the widest range of high quality service at an optimum price.

A tender is a complex process, and in order to hold it successfully, the provider should be familiar with special aspects of the customer`s business and have a detailed description of requirements, the speaker stressed.

Daria Mironova, senior corporate sales manager Russia and CIS of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts shared her secrets of efficient communication with hotels.

“If the hotel has made you a great offer that fully meets the requirements of your event and the budget planned, the meeting has been a success, your aims have been achieved, participants are satisfied and your boss is happy – it means you have made an ideal request”, Daria is convinced.

In her words, there are ten elements of an ideal request, including a thorough description of event with its strong and weak points, description of your previous experience with other providers, technical requirements to the conference venue, the budget and several dates of the event.

Boris Puzitsky, head of centralized purchase and procurement department of Eldorado spoke about the main difference between purchases in business travel and MICE. In his opinion, the motto of the company when it arranges business trips should be “Quick and cheap!”, and the main thing about MICE is to make an impression, because every event is craftwork!

Head of business travel department of Leroy Merlin Aleksandra Perekalskaya offered forum participants her answer to the question “How to increase travel policy compliance with the help of a game?” One of the methods of staff involvement is to create a separate community on the web page where business trips are booked. Besides, contests and competitions have proved to be very efficient.

“ABT-ACTE Russia conferences always leave only positive emotions, these events encourage you to constant professional growth”, Aleksandra Berdnikova stressed. “I particularly point out the speeches of Boris Puzitsky and Aleksandra Perekalskaya – these charismatic speakers have covered very important topics”.

The panel discussion was also devoted to a very burning issue. Elena Lobanova offered the topic “Let`s stay friends. Leaving the provider”. Participants of the discussion were Boris Puzitsky (Eldorado), Konstantin Orlov (VSMPO-AVISMA Corporation), Kirill Komov (NLMK) and Julia Evlakhova (BNS Group of Companies).

Corporate buyers of business travel services explained the reasons for a full or a partial breach in relations with providers on their own experience. The most common breach reasons were non-conformity to the service level declared before, mistakes, untimely payment. It turned out during the discussion that part of companies burned all down when they left their provider. Others were ready to give their partner a second chance. “Everyone deserves a credit of trust, because most specialists try to improve”, executive director of ABT-ACTE Russia Ekaterina Aleksandrova noted. “We often say at our events that a dialogue is necessary. It is the only way to find a compromise solution that could let the both parties work on comfortable terms”.

During the second educational session Yaroslava Belyaeva, client account manager of Finnair in Yekaterinburg spoke about the evolution of agreements with airlines. She dwelled in detail on special features of regional relations with air carriers and threelateral agreements.

Olga Medvedeva, marketing and development director of Vipservice (Ural office) acquainted the delegates with the needs and doubts Yekaterinburg corporate buyers may have when they introduce online solutions.

In her words, representatives of not more than 17% of Yekaterinburg companies travel on business, and only 9% need to book a flight and a hotel for their business trip. “In practice, less than 5% of corporate customers are ready for online tools”, the expert summed up. As a rule, employees of one third of companies book their business trips even as individual travellers.

“In order to introduce an online booking tool top managers of a company should be focused at innovations and economy, have a large travel volume and understand the travel specifics. All this is present only in large companies at the moment”, the speaker added.

The participants of the second panel discussion spoke about pricing in the hotel industry. Varvara Malkina, senior regional market manager of Expedia was moderator of the discussion. Ludmila Konovalova (Swissotel Krasnye Holmy), Albina Usvyatsova (angelo by Vienna House Ekaterinburg) and Oksana Savenkova (Hyatt Regency Ekaterinburg) shared their experience.

Olga Voytenko, director of USTA Business Travel offered event participants a review of the Ural MICE market. According to her data, congress facilities of the region included more than 130 venues with capacities from 70 to 2 thousand persons. Apart from hotel conference halls the capital of the Urals offered such unusual venues as Ekaterinburg-EXPO and Yeltsin Centre. In 2016 in Yekaterinburg and Yekaterinburg region the following events were held: WorldSkills, Innoprom, Grand Forum BIT 2016, Forum 100+, The Big Ural Travel Forum, Atomskills, Expo Build Russia, Mendeleev Congress and the National Cardiologist Congress. A number of All-Russian and international events had already been planned for 2017.

Many forum participants remembered the speech of Evgeniya Solovsova, communications manager of Merck Group, devoted to charity in MICE. According to the results of the survey held by the company, more than 67% of respondents took part in charity. “People are more willing to participate in charity if they are offered a ready-made project. Everyone wants to do something good, be useful for the society, but do not always find time and moral spirit”, the speaker noted.

For the past year, the Russian office of Merk held three charitable events. They were an auction (300 hundred thousand rubles was raised to treat a child registered in AiF Fund “Kind Heart”), Company Day (a joint event with pupils and graduates of correctional orphan homes and psychoneurological care homes) and establishment of a playschool “There will be a child” in the V.I. Kulakov Research Centre for Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology.

“It was a very important presentation and a message”, is the opinion of Anna Zvyaginseva from Amadeus. “The business world should always remember about those who really need our support. And companies can always combine corporate events and help to those in need, if they wish”.

The tight business program ended with a cocktail in Sunlight restaurant, where the participants could listen to speeches of Oksana Trofimova-Nidental from Yekateringurg Congress Bureau and Elmira Tukanova from Tourism Promotion Centre of Sverdlovsk region. At the end of the event accommodation vouchers from hotel operators Sokos, Marriott and Azimut were raffled off.

On the third day, event participants from other cities got acquainted with MICE facilities of Yekaterinburg. They visited the historic and the modern centre of the city, Novotel Yekaterinburg Centre and Ekaterinburg-Tsentralny hotel and Yeltsin Centre.

“A forum is a format that should unite cities, and we have managed to do it”, Ekaterina Aleksandrova summed up.

Partners of the event were angelo by Vienna House Ekaterinburg, Tenet Hotel, Azimut Hotel Olympic Moscow, Sochi Marriott Kasnaya Polyana and Swissotel Krasnye Holmy Moscow, Rosa Khutor Ski resort, Gorki Hotels group of companies, hotel operators Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts and Sokos Hotels, USTA group of companies, Tourism Promotion Centre of Sverdlovsk region, IBC Corporate Travel agency, Finnair, online booking system, IT company Eventicious and VIP terminal of Koltsovo airport.

Ekaterina Larina