by Matt Alderton | June 23, 2015
Companies that have a documented, comprehensive meetings policy that adheres to regulatory requirements enjoy less risk than companies that don't, suggests new research published today by American Express Meetings & Events.

Focused on life science companies, in particular, the research -- titled "Protect Your Profits: Mitigating Meetings Risk in Life Science Companies" -- found that 70.1 percent of life science companies have a formal meeting policy, although only 60 percent have crisis preparation guidelines.

"In order for companies to properly prepare for potential risk, planning ahead and establishing a meetings policy that adheres to regulatory requirements is critical," said Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president and general manager of American Express Meetings & Events. "Our white paper explores top meetings management trends, including how companies are implementing tighter controls, embracing risk management techniques, evaluating risk levels, and determining gaps in process and plans. At the same time, we found a disparity in views between meeting leaders who have direct or indirect responsibility for a meeting and those doing the actual planning. With this knowledge, companies can review their policies and determine the appropriate courses of action to minimize risks, balance the attendee experience, and the focus on realizing the business objectives of their meetings and events."

Notably, the number of life science companies with a formal meeting policy exceeds the overall number -- companies across multiple industries -- by 26 percent.

"The … findings suggest life science companies have put in place tighter and more comprehensive controls than those of the broader corporate population," American Express Meetings & Events reported.

While their tighter controls give life science companies greater confidence in their ability to mitigate meeting risks, their confidence might be misplaced, suggested the study: Although 60.2 percent of survey respondents said meetings and events risk is mitigated properly in their organization, more than a third (36.4 percent) said they didn't know if compliance teams had reviewed their company's meeting processes within the past year; another 22.9 percent are certain no such review had taken place.

"Companies should not be comfortable with even 90 percent of respondents agreeing risk is being mitigated properly," Jouaneh said. "The stakes and penalties around non- compliance to industry regulations are very high."

Further underscoring companies' risk is the fact that many life science meetings are planned by administrative assistants instead of professional meeting planners: While administrative assistants self-report that they spend a little over 25 percent of their time on meeting and event planning, 54.2 percent of company leaders say administrative assistants plan more than half of their company's events.

Concluded American Express Meetings & Events, "Perhaps the most favorable news is that 92.3 percent of the administrative assistant planners in the white paper report that they use the policy that is in place. This could indicate that if processes and policies are in place and well-communicated and understood, then they are more likely to be followed."


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