Small Meetings – the next frontier of meetings management

According to a recent study by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), 50% of all corporate meetings are classed as ‘small’ or ‘simple’. What’s more, agency Banks Sadler reported at last month’s Cvent Connect that these small meetings make up around 80% of some of their key clients’ events portfolio.

Usually defined as a small meeting with basic, replicable requirements, ‘simple’ meetings have historically not garnered the same level of attention as their large-scale, high- spend counterparts.

Given their nature, they’re generally managed outside of meetings policies and are booked by individuals who may not usually be responsible for planning an event.

This presents a significant opportunity for organisations looking for ways to further optimise their meetings management programmes. By including small meetings in the full picture of total event spend, companies can begin to see improved supplier negotiation, total policy compliance, and perhaps most importantly, visibility and duty of care.

Banks Sadler’s Head of Business Development, Sue Darlaston provides her top three considerations for small meeting organisers looking to gain control over this area of often unmanaged spend.

1. Small meetings can add up to higher spending, so it’s time to capture the full spend across your organisation

Many companies lack visibility into how many meetings are planned across all their departments, particularly when it comes to their small and simple meetings. With GBTA’s survey confirming that 42% of respondents do not track small meeting expenditures, these costs are often going unnoticed.

Small meetings

To gain maximum value from a meetings programme, it is important to have a complete view of all spend, regardless of the size of a meeting.

As well as the basics, like the meeting venue; it is also important to gain visibility into as much meeting-specific information as possible. This could include the amount of room nights booked, the number of attendees, the destination city, and of course, the total spend.

Once you have this information, what can it provide you with? According to the GBTA study, 40% of simple meetings in North America take place in hotel conference spaces. Here, there’s an obvious untapped opportunity to align spend at preferred hotels and hotel chains in accordance with company policy. The result? A likely reduction in overall meetings investment and greater relationships with preferred suppliers.

2. Consolidating small and simple meetings is critical for duty of care

With small and simple meetings often organised by “part-time organisers,” a significant risk emerges.

Despite having the best of intentions, these individuals may not have the same knowledge, tools, processes, or supplier relationships as a dedicated meetings manager, which means that basic duty of care requirements may be missed.

Consolidating small meetings

Further adding to the case, simple meetings are more likely to be booked at non-standard venues that do not specialise in events. With these two factors at play, duty of care considerations can be compromised.

Whether it’s limited on-site staffing and support, or a basic lack of visibility, consolidating small and simple meetings into an overall strategic meetings management programme has never been more important.

You should begin to minimise corporate risk by only allowing organisers the option of booking hotels with values that align with company policy, sourced from within a centralised system so you know where your attendees are in the event of a travel disruption or major incident alert.

3. Make it easy to comply with policy to mitigate risk and improve savings

Proactively managing simple meetings not only helps to manage duty of care requirements, it can also help to mitigate other risks, including – but not limited to, financial risks associated with appropriate cancellation and attrition terms, food and beverage minimum clauses, or legal risks arising from poorly written contracts (or worse, no contract in place at all).

 

Compliance small meetings

The key to making this work? Making it easy for meeting organisers to comply.

To help improve compliance to policy, organisations should make it as simple as possible for employees to follow the rules.

Every day, we are seeing the increasing digitalisation of meetings, so it’s time to take advantage of it. Your team members are likely used to booking their leisure and business travel online, so similar “shopping” experiences when booking meetings should be the norm.

Sue Darlaston was speaking with Mike Fletcher during Cvent Connect. For more insights on Small meetings – the next frontier of meetings management, download the 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast report from American Express Meetings & Events.


Mike Fletcher

Written by Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.