While the concept of strategic meetings management (SMM) programs has been around for over a decade, many organizations still wonder if it makes sense for them. A meetings management program can provide your organization with visibility into meetings and events activity, a streamlined planning process, realized cost savings, duty of care compliance, and reduce corporate risk, among other benefits.
At Cvent CONNECT, a seasoned group of meetings management experts, Henrietta Balint of Radius Travel, Tami Reier of Travel and Transport, Anne Marie Crawford of INNTEL, and Rene Proske of Proske, shared some of their key learning experiences.
Small is Strategic
Many companies think that just because a large percentage of their meetings and events are small, they do not need a formal program. This is not the case. Anne Marie shared an example of a client in which 25 percent of its meetings business was small meetings, spread across 26 venues in Europe. The team analyzed these meetings and found that despite the small size, the meetings were very strategic and contributed sizably to their business. The meetings were drawing important attendees and generating more business than the client ever realized. The strategic nature of the meetings meant there was value in a meetings management program.
The client saved $1 million in meeting expenses through improved booking capabilities and other changes that helped improve the organization’s duty of care to its employees. Just because the meetings are small doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities.
Walk Before You Run
Another common misconception is that a meetings program is only valuable when implemented on a large, global scale. This kind of thinking often sets companies up for failure. Rene discussed a client at a large multinational company that created and quickly rolled out a global meetings management program complete with new technology, spanning three continents. The problem was that there was no accommodation to tweak the program for adaptation to different markets and cultural differences. The program was launched and re-launched three times, failing each time due to low adoption and overly complex technology.
The lesson learned? Start small. Implementing a program for a specific geography or even a certain set of meetings and events can prove the value of a larger meetings and events program. And you will be able to tweak a larger rollout based on lessons learned in the test.
Identify & Understand your Executive Sponsor
Tammy described a client example where the VP of HR, formerly the executive sponsor of the company’s meetings management program, was no longer in the role. This jeopardized the program’s survival. With the VP of Finance invited to be the new sponsor, Tammy and her team developed and presented a detailed presentation. They recognized that for the VP of Finance, cost savings would be a key priority, so they focused the presentation on that value proposition. By aligning to the VP’s strategic priorities, they achieved their goal of getting his program buy-in and support. The changeover in sponsors caused a 90-day delay in program implementation, but this responsive approach minimized what could have been a significant hurdle into a speed bump.
Are you trying to get the support of your CMO? You likely do not want to focus on cost savings, but rather concentrate on brand awareness, or how a streamlined event process can maximize marketing dollars spent on events in order to grow revenue. Or if it’s the VP of HR, focus on how meetings and events impact employee morale and engagement, resulting in lower employee attrition. Whoever it is, know their goals, and how a meetings management program will help them achieve those goals.
To watch the Meetings Management Program session in its entirety, visit here.