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by Tim Brown | June 19, 2015

Although the Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) initiative was introduced in 2004, it took the great recession for SMM to really gain traction and become embraced by the meeting industry at large, which in turn ushered in a new era of meeting quality, metrics, and value reporting.

While industry surveys reveal continued increases in corporate and association planning teams implementing SMM components, these same surveys also expose a challenge: achieving and demonstrating maximum qualitative and quantifiable success. Often this is because there was not effective communications or training during the roll-out, or because, once launched, participation and compliance was low. Another big gap impeding success is in the lack of preparation, or advance organizational research and data needed to create a business plan approach to meeting management.

Organizational Analysis

Whether meeting planning responsibilities are enterprise-wide, within a department, division, or cluster of meetings, there is critical data to collect and review in order to create an action plan, identify benefits, and create metrics with which to define, measure, and report results. With SMM, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so it is important to conduct your own front-end analysis, which will greatly increase the probability of success.

Meeting Activity Data to Gather Before Implementing SMM Standards and Meeting Policies
     
• What are senior management’s vision and expectations for meetings?
• Who are internal and external meeting sponsors, and what are their goals and objectives for meetings?
• How are meetings generated, and what is the approval process?
• Who plans and supports the meeting management process?
• What are the number of meetings planned annually, by planner?
• What are the meeting categories and the number of attendees?
• What is the total meeting spend, by category?
• What is the meeting spend, by individual hotel and chain?
• What are some of the hotel contract risk reduction and cost containment measures being used?
• Who are the preferred suppliers?
• What are the meeting management processes, procedures, and logistics?
• What are the deposits, payment, and reconciliation processes for hotels and vendors?
• What are the current technology resources and data management capabilities?
• Which meeting metrics are used to define, measure, and report success?
• Which post-meeting evaluations and surveys will be used?

A Team Approach

Involve meeting planners and stakeholders in the advanced research and data collection process, and get feedback, ideas, and recommendations on ways to improve overall meeting management procedures and outcomes. Share big-picture goals as well as an overall idea of all benefits delivered. People are naturally fearful of losing control, or losing their perks, so getting everyone aboard early avoids turf wars and compliance issues down the road.

Conclusions

If you have not made SMM a priority or are not achieving maximum results and ROI from your existing plan, the time is now to implement some solutions. A carefully planned and implemented SMM can save an organization 12 to 20 percent annually, which is a good way to get senior management aboard this high impact initiative. Being a proactive contributor to SMM implementation will have a big impact on your organization -- and it's a good career booster too!