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by Tim Brown | May 10, 2015

Meeting planner surveys reveal that a big pain point is tracking and leveraging meeting activity and spend data, as well as consistently reporting meeting value to senior management and stakeholders. With more and more corporate and association planners implementing Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) standards, the need for visibility of all meeting activity and spend has never been higher. The big picture goal is to easily access and leverage this business intelligence for measurable cost savings, added meeting value, contract risk reduction, and strategic decision making.

Where To Start?

Whether your meeting responsibilities are enterprise-wide or within a department, division, or cluster of meetings, track all meeting activity and spend data at all phases of the life cycle of each meeting. Important front-end information includes identifying key internal and external meeting sponsors, full- and part-time planners, and departments that support meetings & events, as well as identifying the total number of meetings annually, spend by category and meeting activity by each hotel and hotel chain. Additionally, understanding how meetings are approved and having a master meeting and event calendar are important parts of the equation.

Leveraging Meeting Data

Consolidating meeting and spend data starts by tracking all meeting activity, including hotel and venue RFP distribution; proposals; budget and cost analysis; final negotiated costs savings and contract risk reduction; and cost containment measures. Hotel contract risk mitigation has become an important metric in the SMM landscape. Post-meeting, track contracted sleeping rooms, by night, versus actual pick-ups. Track the contracted F&B guarantee (without tax and service charge) versus actual F&B revenues, along with ancillary spend, including AV, production, technology, business center, spa, golf, etc.

Conclusions

Meeting planners are sitting on mounds of important meeting information, but this data often is in silos and is difficult to access, particularly in a decentralized environment. Today's technology is a real game changer and enables both team and workflow efficiencies and drives the data and spend management process, including integrating multiple meeting management functions. Evaluate your current technology resources and determine what is needed to track data, by category, including 24/7 access to spend and financial reporting. Information is power, and tracking and leveraging meeting activity and spend data will enhance value-based negotiations and usher in high impact SMM standards--including metrics to define, measure, and report success.

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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 tbrown@meetingsites.net.