I want to tackle a topic that does not seem to go away: communicating meeting value to senior managers. This came up once again at one of our recent workshops on meeting value and ROI, when several corporate and association meeting planners discussed the challenges of communications with senior managers and the fact that management really does not understand what it takes to manage meetings and events. This discussion (okay, venting) also included comments like "unrealistic expectations" and planners "not being appreciated." My knee-jerk reaction was to point out that senior managers very seldom have career paths via meeting management, and that their vision for meetings are not focused on logistics but solutions around "people, productivity and profitability."
The Shift From Logistics To Strategic
While meeting logistics and execution are essential, when communicating with senior management the conversation must be strategic -- not just planner-speak. An important first step is to enhance your business acumen, understand how your organization works, and what the specific issues and challenges facing management and stakeholders are. Viewing the company's annual report, website, mission and vision statements, and announced strategic initiatives is a good place to start. Ask your direct report what he or she sees as the key issues and goals for the organization. Additionally, when reviewing the needs of any meeting, convention, or incentive with managers or stakeholders, find out the top goals and expected outcomes and present viable solutions to ensure success.
What Value Lens Are You Looking Through?
On the topic of identifying and achieving meeting goals, it is essential to create metrics to define, measure, and report success, so you must know what each manager or stakeholder values. Stakeholders are focused on many things, including cost savings; hotel contract risk reduction and cost containment; planner and team productivity; trade show impact; building the organization's brand; and enhancing the attendee experience and learning. Post-meeting, it is important to create value reports, then discuss and evaluate what was requested versus what was delivered.
In today's value-centric environment, it is important to implement Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) standards, track meeting activity and spend, and create value reports for managers and stakeholders. A carefully planned and implemented SMM can save an organization 12 to 20 percent annually, which is a good way to raise the bar on communications with senior management and get heard at the top. The good news is that senior managers now see meetings and events as essential to ensure the organization's success. When corporate and associations planners identify all stated meeting goals and deliver real solutions and value-based outcomes, there will be improved collaboration, recognition, and career opportunities!
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]