The last year has been one of tremendous growth for BCD Meetings & Events. President Scott Graf explains how listening to clients has fueled smart expansion and looks ahead to what the future holds.
Q: It has been almost a year since BCD M&I joined with BCD Travel Groups to create BCD Meetings & Events. What are the benefits of that integration?
A: Our integration allowed us to accommodate clients’ global scope while still meeting demand for local delivery across all lines of our business. Our 1,000 employees—double what we had before the integration—operate in more countries and do so more efficiently and effectively. Our client count has more than quadrupled, and the client spend we manage is up nearly 40% compared to 2014. We are well positioned to scale for even more growth, which we see coming from increased business with existing customers and new business created through acquisitions.
Q: In February, BCD M&E announced the addition of 13 markets to your Global Partner Network. And you’ve added a few more partners since then. What does this mean for your clients?
A: Whether service comes from us directly or through one of our carefully chosen strategic partners, our multi-national and global clients benefit from the reach and depth of our operations. The companies we partner with are industry leaders in their individual markets. They enable us to serve customers that need the leverage and accessibility of a global agency, as well as local market expertise in taxes, pricing, legal specifics and more.
Q: Why did you choose to add partners rather than expanding globally through owned operations?
A: There is only so much organic growth that can happen at the pace we need to expand. Partners help us speed up delivery of the in-market services our clients need. That’s especially true in Asia Pacific, which is a high-growth region for us and for our clients. Having strong partners in APAC is critical. Our partner network growth this year alone means we now can serve customers in 20 additional markets across the world.
Q: You’ve also been growing through acquisitions, including a recent purchase of Plan 365 Inc. Why is that a smart strategy in today’s market?
A: Acquisitions are strategic investments in serving customers’ needs. They offer some of the same benefits we gain by adding partners in global markets; acquisitions allow us to scale quickly to get ahead of customer demand. We listen to our customers throughout the world, across our events and strategic meetings management business lines, to understand what they see on the horizon. Then we make decisions about how to meet those future needs quickly—either by delivering the services with our in-house resources or by buying companies with the right expertise that also fit perfectly with our culture.
Q: Why is BCD M&E making such a big play in the life sciences sector? How much of your current business comes from life sciences?
A: Life sciences customers make up 25% of our current volume. It’s big business, and it’s complex business. Very few organizations can expertly deliver on the intricate and unique business needs of life sciences companies’ meetings and events. With our acquisition of Plan 365, we are the only global meetings and events agency that can provide single-source services for strategic meetings management, events and heath care provider meetings. Our full-service capabilities include solution design, which means creating customized solutions to meet customer’s business objectives, instead of giving off-the-shelf solutions; technology; on-site execution; speaker bureau management; go-to-market strategies and more.
Q: Why did the company decide to launch its own proprietary technology tool, Smart Meeting?
A: Technology is a critical need in our space. We are a service provider at heart, so we know what the market lacks. That’s why we’ve made significant investments to develop in-house technology that can meet our customers’ unique meeting and compliance requirements. Smart Meeting is proprietary, but it doesn’t compete with existing technology platforms available to our industry. It complements—even supplements—those technologies, and it plugs into those platforms seamlessly. We developed Smart Meeting to address customer pain points and offer specific meetings management and compliance capabilities, especially to the life sciences market.
Q: How does having BCD M&E under the BCD Travel umbrella benefit your clients?
A: True integration between travel and meetings has traditionally been an area of challenge for companies—even for the most mature corporate programs. Being under the BCD Travel umbrella allows us to offer significant value to clients through:
- Consolidating data
- Maximizing the benefits of preferred supplier relationships
- Providing comprehensive risk management and security for all transactions and data feeds
- Managing integrated online booking tools
Our connection with BCD Travel also opens the door to integrated account management across travel management and meetings and events. This integration can help mature corporate travel and meetings programs find unrealized savings.