The ACTE Column: Face time

Real meetings are still vital in a fiercely competitive environment.

THEY SAY LESS IS MORE but it seems we all have to do far more with far less these days. We have seen this emerging theme at nearly all of our regional conferences and education forums over the past year, from the Nordics to Russia, from the Middle East through central Europe to here in the UK. Everyone throughout the buy and supply chain seems to have far has less time, money and resource to run their businesses and deliver results. It's therefore imperative that we continue to innovate, to work smarter and to understand our customer needs if we want to stay ahead.

In the fast-paced world we operate in, it's all too easy to bash out an email to get a problem off our desks and make the issue someone else's responsibility, but email is a one-dimensional communication form. It is impossible to evaluate how your internal and external customers will interpret the content and tone of your words.

A telephone conversation is at least two-dimensional and has been repeatedly proven to be quicker to get to the heart of an issue and find a solution than getting caught in an endless round of email tennis. But you still can't beat a face-to-face meeting to really understand what makes people tick and build a relationship.

While we must use our time well, it's critical that we do invest in face-to-face meetings to hear our customer's challenges, to spark new ideas and find more streamlined ways of working. Nobody can buy or sell a solution unless they understand what the problem is that needs to be solved. And ultimately that's what we are all in business for: to identify challenges and opportunities, to help the wheels of industry turn more efficiently.

The ACTE education stream at Business Travel Market in June shared some useful insights and practical tips on a variety of themes including developing a robust internal communications strategy; how and when to simplify the RFP process; new sources and approaches to data evaluation, strategising to integrate changing technology; and identifying the skill sets people will require in the managed travel arena over the next few years.

Many of the sessions were so insightful that we will look to share some outcomes again at upcoming education events at our Global Conference in Rome (October 14.-16), at our London forums (September 18 and November 7), as well as other forums through the rest of Europe and the Middle East. Presentations from ACTE events are also accessible online through ACTE Connect.

In a fiercely competitive environment, suppliers should take advantage of every opportunity to differentiate their business and use every resource available. Don't miss the chance to steal a competitive edge and showcase what makes you, your company and your employees shine by entering the 2013 Business Travel Awards.

ACTE is proud to support the awards, and the recognition earned by category winners and shortlisted companies is a credible seal of approval. Visit the Business Travel Awards website (www. for the list of categories and online entry, and invest some time to shine a light on what makes your company the best.

Make sure you stay abreast of industry change, understand what's trending and capitalise on every opportunity to keep your business a nose ahead of your competitors.

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