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by Tim Brown | May 6, 2014

Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) initiative to the equation and it's easy to see why corporate and association planning teams are feeling pressure to enhance measurable meeting value.
 
An Umbrella Of Value Components
 
Perhaps you have heard me say that "meeting value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder." While continuing to negotiate and track the many cost savings line items, it is important to view (and deliver) meeting value based on stakeholder expectations. The key to success in today's value-centric environment is to understand and manage the expectations of all stakeholders and anyone with their hands (or fingerprints) on the overall meeting management process.
 
The View From The Top
 
Whether you have direct access to senior management or use your direct report as a conduit, it is important to know management's vision for meetings as an investment. Building your business acumen on how your organization works and understanding what drives the three P's -- People, Productivity, and Profitability -- is essential. The focus is not on "planner speak" but on a strategic and value-based approach to identifying challenges and delivering solutions. Senior management seldom has a career path via meeting management, so educating them on what you do and the overall value you generate -- sometimes with dollar signs, sometimes without -- should be an ongoing conversation.
 
What Value Lens Are You Looking Through?
 
Different departments look at things in different ways, and that's only natural. Procurement and the CFO will be laser beam focused on saving money, while marketing will be more interested in branding and communication of their strategic message. Human Resources will desire enhanced attendee communications, new learning, and skills that transfer to the workplace. Hotel contract risk reduction and cost containment has become an important metric in the SMM landscape, and fast access to meeting data, leveraged spend, and financial reporting will be a high priority for someone with enterprise-wide responsibilities. As drivers of strategic solutions, meeting planners must focus on what is important to each stakeholder, and after the meeting must report on what was requested -- and what was delivered. (Yes, keep score!)
 
Conclusions
 
The meeting management landscape is changing and now is the time to raise the bar on meeting metrics and value reporting to key stakeholders. Become proactive in identifying challenges and recommending solutions, track your meeting activity and spend (by category), have a negotiations plan for each meeting, create a custom hotel contract to assure risk mitigation, and enhance attendee communications and interactive learning. Cost savings will always remain a priority, but expanding your value vision will have a big impact on your organization and will create new career opportunities too!

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Tim Brown is CEO of Meeting Sites Resource. MSR is a global strategic meetings management solutions organization with a 20-year track record of meeting excellence. This includes global hotel sourcing and custom contract negotiations, professional meeting support services, SMM consulting and advanced meeting technology.
 
Tim contributes articles to industry trade publications and speaks at many industry events. MSR also designs custom strategic education for planning and procurement teams. MSR is a recognition recipient of Meeting Professionals International's Golden Paragon Award, MPI's highest recognition for meeting excellence.
 
For a complimentary copy of Tim's "Meeting Value & ROI Analysis," contact him at [email protected].