One of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) most pressing problems was the suitability of the Dublin venue. They were already on their third hotel in the city, and still not happy with their choice. Inntel’s account manager visited the Manchester, London and Reading centres to see how the exams were run there. It became clear that the small details really mattered, from having a bin in the examination room to suitably bright lighting overhead and a clock visible from all desks. Armed with a deeper understanding of the IFoA requirements, the account manager accompanied the client to Dublin to look at alternative venues. Together they selected the Royal Dublin Society as the preferred hotel for Dublin events – a position it still holds today.
The London venue was offering a mostly satisfactory service, but the IFoA felt it was becoming complacent and wanted ‘better’ for the £150,000 they were spending with them each year. Inntel’s account manager accompanied the IFoA team to a meeting with the General Manager and Operations Director of the hotel. As a result of the meeting, the hotel gave the IFoA a dedicated point of contact and an assurance that any issues would be resolved promptly from now on.
The Manchester venue was failing to keep to the agreed times for the coffee and lunch breaks. So another visit was arranged to impress on the management team the importance of punctuality – as the exam schedule is fixed, candidates will end up going without food and drink if the refreshments are not served on time.
The IFoA is the governing body responsible for the professional development of actuaries. Each year, the organisation arranges for hundreds of trainee actuaries to take exams at five venues serving students in England, Scotland and Ireland. Their annual budget for this work is around £1/2M.
Inntel started working with the IFoA in 2012, initially to assist with streamlining and consolidating the Institute’s accommodation and catering bookings. Towards the end of 2013 it became apparent that, while the booking processes were now better, the people responsible for organising the exam schedules were dealing with many other problems that we felt we could help with.
It was time to step up a gear.
The IFoA team used to maintain paper records of their changing schedules and bookings. Inntel realised that many of their processes could be improved by using a meetings management application – but accepted that this was a leap too far at the moment. As an interim step, we put all of the information onto an Excel spreadsheet and introduced a Standard Operating Process for making changes. We then arranged to have a weekly telephone call with the IFoA events team to discuss the latest situation. After six months of seeing how much easier things were with a spreadsheet, the IFoA agreed to upgrade to Inntel’s iReport system, which gives them at-a-glance information on the status of all bookings, the delegates’ details, the cost of each booking, the amount remaining in the budget and the savings that Inntel has achieved by renegotiating on the first quoted rate.
Inntel was initially commissioned to manage the bookings, and the IFoA was ‘satisfied’ with our service. But we like our customers to be ‘delighted’, and took it upon ourselves to show how much better things could be.
As a result of our many initiatives, the IoFA exams workload has become much easier to manage. And thanks to our tough negotiations, their meetings and event spend in 2013 was 23% less than it had been the year before. The following year, it was 21% less than the benchmark 2012 figure.