Companies take for granted that online tools will give them the best rates for business travel. When it comes to meetings and events, however, there seems to be a different mindset. Yet it’s the time spent during the meeting, not the travel there and back, that is likely to yield real results and action.

Expert meetings management ensures your business squeezes the very best value from every pound you spend. Take a strategic approach to meetings and you can keep your business objectives front of mind throughout, maximising return on investment with great outcomes and an exceptional delegate experience.

And the emerging science of predictive analytics offers impressive benefits in this regard, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to predict the future. By studying past data and using algorithms you can detect meaningful patterns that suggest what is likely to happen – then take different action as a result.

Predictive analytics can help you plan better meetings and events, save money and control costs. And it’s powerful because it works at a scale and depth of detail impossible for human analysts.

Detecting trends in behaviours leads to smarter buying decisions. Using AI you can learn the average spend per delegate within an industry sector or large organisation, benchmark your own spend and compare venues. You can evaluate total cost per delegate – including travel, food, credit card expenses, time out of office etc. Savings of up to 20% have been suggested if corporates can obtain a full 3600 picture of costs, and this precision also helps business leaders with budget planning.

Predictive analytics can calculate demand for an event. Let’s say 100 delegates are invited to a summit. Past data shows that only 22% will RSVP within a month but 58% more will finally accept (many after the booking deadline) … so, that one-month figure enables you to predict how many will actually attend and thus book the right venue at the right cost well ahead.

You can also calculate the most cost-effective and time-efficient location and venue for your company to hold a meeting e.g. when delegates are coming from three specified countries. Predictive analytics even allows the business to decide to send fewer people to a conference in Asia-Pacific, for example, if airfares to the destination are forecast to rise at that time of year.

AI can rapidly analyse attendee expenses claims and individual behaviours to detect anomalies. It can identify the 5% of delegates making bogus claims without aggravating the 70% who never cheat or the 25% who make the occasional mistake. What’s more, intelligent analysis can highlight how, although a meeting attendee spent an unauthorised £10 on an in-room movie, they skipped a £30 dinner as a result.

The challenge may be making the most of your mountain of unstructured data housed with multiple online services and offline providers and this is where a meetings and events management company’s expertise is invaluable.