(This article for appeared in Jan. 24, 2005 - Meeting News)
Dallas — In a newly issued white paper, Meeting Professionals International's Global Corporate Circle of Excellence encourages planners to embrace corporate procurement practices, and offers both planners and suppliers career-positioning objectives to weather these changes.
The issue of consolidating corporate travel spend is the new reality.
"If your work group isn't actively involved with the procurement process now, it probably will be, and you must be prepared to embrace that reality," the document states.
Pointed out were two significant changes that procurement practices bring to meetings management: standard contracts for meetings goods and services through the organization, and preferred providers to leverage for volume discounts.
"Some meeting professionals are threatened by these changes, just as anyone in society is threatened by change," said MPI chairman Hugh Lee. "Our role is to let them know the trends are changing, and to give them the tools to change."
Angie Pfeifer, director of travel and meeting management at Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Investors Group Financial Services, said that by executing the strategies defined in the paper, planners will help establish themselves as professionals who are an integral part of their organization's structure.
"Unfortunately for planners who didn't centralize earlier and realize there was an opportunity to leverage corporate travel with meetings, they are now concerned with this trend," said Pfeifer, whose company has had a consolidated meeting and corporate travel department for several years.
"It needs to be a partnership. Procurement can still support you and your team in achieving process efficiencies and financial goals."
The paper also gives ample attention to suppliers, pointing out that preferred vendor policies will present new opportunities and challenges.
It states, "Suppliers: It's imperative that you understand the fundamental shift in how planners are doing business and that you adjust your business models accordingly. The more contemporary your relationship with a planner whose job is evolving to involve larger business issues including procurement, the more likely you will serve that planner better."
MPI's Global Corporate Circle of Excellence, which consists of senior corporate meeting planners, wrote the white paper, titled, "The Power of Partnership: Capitalizing on the Collaborative Efforts of Strategic Meeting Professionals and Procurement Departments." The paper is available on MPI's website, www.mpiweb.org
Along with the position paper, the Global Corporate Circle of Excellence compiled a toolkit, also available on the website, that includes a sample preferred-vendor contract, a sample cost-control policy, and an outline of the various key components that make up a corporate strategic meetings management program.