Terri Woodin, CMP, is Senior Director of Global Meeting Services at Meeting Sites Resource. MSR is a strategic meetings management solutions organization with a 23-year track record of meeting excellence. This includes global hotel sourcing, custom contract negotiations and professional meeting support services. Terri contributes articles to industry trade publications and speaks at many industry events. She also serves on many industry advisory boards including MPI, PCMA, APEX Standards Committee and The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University.
Meeting value, metrics and ROI reporting is a hot industry topic, which has increased senior management’s expectations for improved meeting planner productivity, cost savings, hotel contract risk reduction and added meeting value. Additionally, the acceptance of Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) standards by corporate and association planners fast tracks the need for metrics to define, measure and report success. Meetings are big investments and today, meeting planners must have a new value-based business model to assure success.
Feedback from meeting managers: 49 percent of planners are feeling pressured to enhance meeting results, measurable metrics and ROI.
Feedback from senior management: More than 50 percent of CEOs feel their organization is not getting maximum ROI from their meetings and events. More than 40 percent of CFOs are not satisfied with their organization’s travel/meeting spend.
A Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP) was launched by GBTA in 2004; however, this initiative really gained traction during the recession, and it is here to stay. SMMP is not just a knee-jerk reaction to the recession but an essential value and accountability business model for corporate and association planning teams. Keep in mind it is not just about dollar signs. In addition to cost savings, there is an umbrella of value components. According to GBTA, you do not have SMMP unless you have all the pieces that define the SMMP. But you can have a Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) initiative, which is a more customized approach to value-based meeting planning, developed in phases based on your current priorities and the evolving needs within the organization.
As you start thinking about putting together a value-based action plan, there are some steps you can take that will enhance your success. Building your business acumen starts with learning about your organization and focusing on less “logistical speak.” So where do you begin? Start with senior management and their objectives, goals and vision for enterprise-wide meetings and events. Prior to meeting with management, review your organization’s annual report, website, mission and vision statements, strategic initiatives announced by the organization, and understand how your organization works.
Twelve critical steps to building your business plan:
Regardless of what components you implement, technology is the driver. There is no “one size fits all” solution. Identify your priorities whether responsibilities are enterprise-wide, a division, department or cluster of meetings, SMM will add value. Select the components that you can change.
Key measurement options include increased planner and team productivity, cost savings, contract risk reduction and cost containment, return on objectives (ROO), return on event (ROE), and robust technology that efficiently drives strategic decisions by producing management and financial reports that validate results.
Cost savings. Planners continue to share that one of their top challenges is producing credible metrics and formulas to define real cost savings and then how to communicate total savings to senior management. Produce a cost savings report by meeting after each counter-signed contract. Be sure to include all concessions negotiated within the contract working with the hotel to determine the true value of each item. For example, when defining savings on group rates, benchmark against the original rate quoted or average group rate in-house over your dates. Benchmarking against the hotel rack rate creates inflated savings, since seldom are planners negotiating rack rates, even in this hot seller’s market.
Hotel contract performance clauses that validate risk reduction/cost containment. These are not legally required for a hotel to include; however, as a savvy planner you should request them or incorporate them into your custom contract that you issue to the hotel.
A seat at the table is very important in today’s environment to demonstrate the value of meetings to the organization and how meetings drive revenues and profits. Consider how you are perceived. How would you like to be perceived? Build your business acumen and talk the language of senior management. Communicate SMM value and outcomes to key stakeholders. Distribute timely data and reports that validate your SMM success. Implement SMM to impact your organization and career. AC&F
For a complimentary copy of Terri Woodin’s Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) Top 10 Tips, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.