Why is a strategic meeting management program (SMMP) important? For meetings, events and incentive travel, it helps to ensure that the time and money are allocated efficiently and drive bottom-line results for the organization.
“Meeting planners are at risk unless they can prove the value of a companies meeting spend by ensuring meetings are happening the right way, for the right cost and for the right reasons,” says Steve O’Malley, vice president and general manager for Maxvantage, a strategic alliance between American Express Business Travel and Maritz Travel. “Aligning meetings programs to corporate objectives and having the data to demonstrate the impact of meeting spend are critical to short and long-term success.”
O’Malley offers the following 10 tips for achieving a strategic meetings management program:
- Lower Your Risk By Enforcing Compliance
With meetings and events under the microscope, companies are becoming more aware of the risks associated with meetings spending from both a contracting and reputation standpoint. To mitigate that risk, planners should enforce compliance with strict meetings policies prior to booking a meeting by registering all meetings and capturing the relevant data.
- Know Your Data
It’s all about the data. Meetings professionals should explore company data to understand how their organization’s meetings spend measures up against like companies so they can determine the right level of investment. Quality data also provides greater visibility into meetings spend, helping organizations realize additional savings opportunities.
- Face-to-Face Is Ideal, But Virtual Meetings Serve Their Purpose
There is no question that face-to-face meetings are the best way to foster strong relationships and maintain solid partnerships, but senior leaders and employees should also weigh alternatives like telepresence or video-conferencing to maximize their return-on-investment.
- Engage Senior Management
In order to gain 100 percent adoption of a Strategic Meetings Management program, it is essential to have senior management on board. If you haven’t already engaged the leadership of the company and told the SMMP value story, now is the time.
- Consider the Global Landscape
By expanding meetings programs globally, companies have the opportunity to increase savings and minimize contractual and reputational risk. However, it is imperative that the organization understand and accommodate the nuances of local markets for successful adoption of a global meetings program.
- Streamline the Process, Minimize the Supply Chain
Are you sourcing through one partner, planning through another, using a third for creative and production, and a fourth (or more) to bring the meeting together? Sourcing all meetings and events to a single partner reduces the players in the supply chain and streamlines the overall process. The result? Lower costs and more time for internal staff to focus on achieving the stated outcomes of the meeting.
- A Proactive Approach Leads to Savings
In the current environment, it is important for meetings professionals to proactively bundle and leverage their volume through proprietary agreements to drive down the cost of meetings without sacrificing quality. This approach ensures maximum value for each event at the right cost.
- Get Ahead of the Game: Predictive Modeling
Dive into your organization’s program data and available benchmarking data to more accurately forecast a projected meeting investment by reviewing industry conditions and the history of other meetings activity. With this knowledge, meetings professionals will be better equipped to negotiate with suppliers and effectively budget their meetings spend.
- Listen to the Voice of the Participant
You can always deliver a meeting at a lower cost, but in the end, employee participation and business effectiveness is critical. It is important to involve attendees in the design of meetings to ensure their full engagement and increase the value of the time and financial investment. Evaluate your full meeting portfolio to ensure the organization has clear expectations and a way to measure whether the program delivers.
- Demonstrate Clear Alignment With Corporate Initiatives
Many companies are looking at minimizing risk, lowering operational expenses and incorporating corporate social responsibility into their meetings programs. Review your meetings program relative to these corporate objectives to determine what role meetings can play in supporting and helping to achieve corporate goals.