Value Q+A 2012: The Principal Financial Group

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Prevue asked Lynne Schueler, The Principal Financial Group’s Assistant Director, Supplier Relations & Development, her thoughts on the evolution of value.

Lynne Schueler
Lynne Schueler

Q: How are you adding value to increase ROI for upscale programs in 2012?
A
: We feel we are adding value by bundling contracts. We are using the same destination and the same hotel for numerous meetings in 2012 and beyond. Our internal customers have been able to achieve additional savings from existing contracts some of our customers already had in place. This is a benefit with the hotel already knowing our customers and our company, and it creates additional value.The ROI has been very beneficial to us and we look forward to capturing more of these opportunities moving forward as the market is changing quickly.

Q: Is there such a thing as a “new normal”? If so, what does that mean to you?
A: The “new normal” for us continues to be tight turn-around on meetings. As our internal customers bring their meetings back on board, a number of them are last minute, with no flexibility on dates. This is a current trend for a lot of companies.We are hoping some of this will slow down as in a lot of cases, the last minute requests end up costing our company more money than if we could plan ahead. However, we understand this is a bit more difficult to control due to the timing of approval on budgeting.

The “new normal” for us continues to be working with less staff, continuing to be creative on how to get the work done while providing great service for our customers.

As noted above, the bundling of contracts and destinations is a new norm and is effective for us at this time. I am continuing to encourage customers to book further out to secure the favorable pricing and room rates within a market that is changing quickly, and also to secure the preferred dates we require for our meetings.

Q: Have your relationships with DMCs changed in the last few years as the economy has changed?
A: The DMC relationship has been elevated for us. About two years ago, I wanted to put together a master agreement with a DMC. I put the project out to bid with three vendors. This was a new approach to doing business for our team. We were downsized and did not have the personnel to source and review individual proposals from different companies for each meeting where we need a DMC’s service.

I was able to put together a very favorable DMC master agreement with one company. We have found this has worked well for us. It has tightened our relationships with the company and allowed us to do our jobs better and more efficiently while still achieving overall savings for our internal clients and our company.

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