Strategic Meetings Management Program Considerations

With meetings and events making up a critical component of your business's overall strategy, it's vital every decision is well-informed to optimize spend and maximize results.

Cost management has become a top concern for 70 per cent of global business leaders, according to McCrindle's The Future of Business Meetings Industry Report. In addition to the threat of rising costs, factors such as legal risk, policy compliance and overall efficiency emphasize the importance of streamlining your business' meetings and event strategy.

A strategic meetings management (SMM) program is a data-driven approach to consolidating corporate event coordination. This method of managing events creates greater oversight of bookings, contracts and procurement as well as establishing company-wide guidelines. You can read more about the benefits of adopting an SMM program in the cievents whitepaper: "The Business Benefits of SMM Programs".

When thinking about SMM, consider these four critical questions to clarify your next steps.

An SMM program puts data where your money is to get the best outcomes from your meetings and events.

An SMM program puts data where your money is to get the best outcomes from your meetings and events.

1. How will you measure the success of your SMM program?

Setting and forgetting is not an option for SMM. There are countless elements to factor into your program, which may need updating as circumstances change or results highlight room for improvement. Defining success at the outset of your program ensures you're walking forward with a clear goal in mind. 

Your definition of success is the reason why your business is adopting SMM. Perhaps you aim to make financial savings, improve compliance, boost attendee satisfaction or all of the above. According to a report produced by The BTN Group, there are a number of definitions of success adopted throughout the industry, including:

  • Total savings (72 per cent)
  • Savings from sourcing negotiations only (57 per cent)
  • Attendee satisfaction (57 per cent)
  • Compliance to policy (55 per cent)
  • Meeting sponsor/department satisfaction (53 per cent)
  • Performance to budget (45 per cent)
  • Improved quality measure (38 per cent)
  • Cost per person, per day reduction (25 per cent)
  • Peer company benchmarks (23 per cent)
  • Regulatory compliance (19 per cent)
  • Year on year meeting cost decrease (19 per cent)

Defining your success now ensures you can build your SMM program thoughtfully and accurately measure return on investment (ROI) later. Of course, it's important to remain flexible and be prepared to adapt your measures and methods according to the needs of the business.

A successful SMM program brings a wealth of ROI, and streamlines spend and compliance.

A successful SMM program brings a wealth of ROI, and streamlines spend and compliance.

2. Do you have key stakeholder buy-in?

SMM is not a small undertaking. It requires a large restructure of your meetings and events booking and procurement processes. Changes like this require significant buy-in before the fact to avoid push-back or low adoption rates.

Of course, buy-in from senior management and your meeting staff is vital. However, it's important to look beyond them and consider who else in the company has stakes in the program. Other departments may be affected by changes to the process, including legal teams, IT, and sales.

Buy-in must be gained before inception as well as carefully nurtured to ensure key stakeholders remain on-board. Not only is buy-in crucial for budgetary support, but ongoing acceptance is also required to uphold enforcement of the policy.

When seeking buy-in, it's important to remember to:

  • Be brutally honest: Do not hold back in presenting harsh numbers about current expenditure. Likewise, be clear about the limitations of your proposed SMM program. There is no golden bullet solution - but SMM is a step in the right direction.
  • Address the pain points: Research the real stressors within your business. This is part of defining your goals and success measures. Your SMM should address these actual pain points to be effective and gain buy-in.

3. Do you have the volume to justify SMM?

The short answer: probably.

Look critically at your meetings not just in terms of size, but number and total value.

The BTN Group's report sheds some light on this. Many survey respondents who claimed to not have a program believed they lacked the volume to justify one. This begs the question - how much is enough? At least $1 million in annual meeting spend, according to proponents in the survey.

Interestingly, many respondents found that their actual meeting spend was multiple times the size of what was estimated at the start of the program. The oversight granted by SMM doesn't only allow you to control your spend, but gives the tools to understand exactly how much and where you spend.

Small meetings can represent a sizeable portion of this spend, says Kevin Iwamoto, senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting. He claims that many business are choosing to ignore smaller meetings in their SMM programs. As a result, they ignore between 30 and 75 per cent of their total meeting expenditure. 

Look critically at your meetings not just in terms of size, but number and total value before deciding whether SMM will work for your business.

Pay attention to the small meetings in your business - they can add up to high spend.

Pay attention to the small meetings in your business - they can add up to high spend.

4. Who will provide your SMM program?

Building and supporting an SMM program in-house requires an enormous allocation of resources. Fortunately, SMM providers such as cievents help to get you viewing your meetings and events strategically, and quickly.

An SMM provider connects you with a digital platform for collating data and generating smart reports. There are a number of additional factors you should look for when considering a provider, such as ongoing analytical support. Particularly as you transition into a new SMM program, being left alone with your data can result in less meaningful insights. A quality provider stays with you and ensures you can leverage the full potential of your data.

Look for a provider who is reputable and offers dedicated account management - not just a support email. Lasting tenure with clients, a positive Net Promoter Score and ample resources should be on your radar when seeking an SMM provider.

cievents have developed an industry leading SMM platform, cimeetings, to grant you total oversight of your organisation's meeting and event spend, while streamlining venue booking and reporting. Our team of industry powerhouses will work with you to get the most out of cimeetings and build a living, breathing SMM program to revolutionize your meetings strategy.

Reach out to cievents today to find out more about our SMM support.

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