Strategic meetings management expert Shimon Avish has joined DigiTravel Consulting, a recent startup in the business travel consulting space. Avish will serve as vice president of consulting, with a focus on technology integration for meeting and travel programs. Most recently, he was principal at Acquis Consulting Group, and he has also worked at American Express Global Business Travel, American Express Meetings & Events, and BCD Meetings & Events. We asked him about the move and changes he expects to see in the industry.
MeetingsNet: You’ve shifted your focus from strategic meetings management consulting to travel and meeting technologies. Where’s the connection?
Avish: During most of my career I’ve helped companies design and build meetings management programs, but it’s become apparent that the future of corporate travel and meetings is converging and is now more focused on ever-increasing automation. Recent surveys find that about 60 percent of travel managers are being asked to take on meetings management. Organizations need help designing their programs, but today, choosing and integrating emerging technologies into meeting and travel programs has become critical to success.
MeetingsNet: Five years from now, what won’t meeting managers be doing that they’re doing today?
Avish: Five years is a long time from now, and I expect the face of our industry to change a lot in that time. Investors have poured over $2 billion into more than 400 emerging solutions in meetings management over the past several years, and these new disruptive technologies are already making themselves felt in the meetings space. There are over 20 categories of new solution types, and those responsible for meetings are often confused about what they can do, how they might work together, and whether they can serve as a replacement for enterprise solutions. So, five years from now, organizations might not be buying one-size-fits-all solutions, but instead developing strategies that combine all sorts of best-in-breed technologies into a customized and system-integrated platform. Another thing that will change is the introduction of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) into meetings management, which will automate many currently manual processes. Organizations will likely need help integrating RPA into their programs and determining which processes make sense to automate.