Over the past two decades, Strategic Meetings Management has become both an industry buzzword and a best practice for procurement. For most large companies, meetings and events make up one of the top five budget expense areas. This secret was well kept for quite some time due to the decentralized nature of meeting execution.
Still today, many organizations have departmental meetings handled within a specific department and never accounted for in overall spend. From hotel contracting, travel, audio/visual, and bespoke printing services and production, the benefits of bringing oversight into one centralized platform or department is often overlooked.
With that in mind, here are the three top business cases for centralized Strategic Meetings Management, along with the potential impact they can have on your organization:
1) Cost savings
The concept of a centralized procurement department is certainly not new to big business. For large spend areas, it’s become commonplace to have procurement assist in developing the scope of need for the organization, and then go out to market with requests for proposal (RFP) in order to obtain the best value available.
The reason this practice works so well is that they’re able to leverage their overall spend in a category of product or service to drive cost savings. It’s simple economics. The more you buy, the more suppliers are willing to provide cost savings.
Strategic meetings management’s first tenet is that an organization must be willing to aggregate this spend and centralize the procurement of products or services in order to quantify spend and turn that into leverage.
Once there is a broader company process in place, for those independently planning meetings for each department, we’ve started down the path to empowering the organization.
2) Risk management
Love them or hate them, policies and procedures make the corporate world go round — and for good reason. Not only do they provide a backbone for successful training programs and create efficiencies for process flow, they also protect organizations from rogue or uninformed employees who, often unknowingly, expose the company to risk and liability.
From a meetings and events standpoint, policies and procedures are developed to ensure that best practice contract clauses are adopted. Those involving cancellation, attrition, and force majeure do little good for an organization if an untrained employee does not understand the implications of risk by not implementing these clauses, or knowing how to use them properly.
As we mentioned earlier, meetings and events are big spend areas, and the financial costs associated with using less than protective clauses can be devastating. Policies around meeting approvals, travel, airline preferences, and even certain limitations for spend in certain markets, are all common and have been developed to protect the organization so that it learns from past mistakes. This is a significant benefit of centralized strategic meetings management as well as one that corporate counsel loves.
In addition to contracting, having policies and procedures in place for communication and design allows for a consistent message between departments. Having a clear understanding of how you communicate outside of your organization will mitigate risk in compliance, allowing vendors to stay on brand when communicating on your behalf.
Supplier relationships run deep within the meetings and events industry. It is, after all, a very people-oriented business. By introducing a centralized way to evaluate suppliers on a periodic basis — organizations can ensure that equal opportunity is given to suppliers with new technologies and innovations. This includes those companies with a certified diverse background to include in diversity spend management, as well as a quality-assurance measure to ensure current suppliers are performing exceptionally.
Policies around vendor management not only affect cost savings, as mentioned above, but also affect an organization’s ability to be ahead of the curve, be agile, consistent in service, and innovate. Many organizations also choose to spell out what the vendor’s relationship can look like with the end-user to make sure that the highest ethical standards are kept with regards to how business is being awarded, and provide supplier training which limits the organization’s liability.
By centralizing the procurement process, entities can easily compare quality, innovation, and the customer service of potential vendors, among other things. This allows an organization visibility to best practices and to maintain the approaches that will keep them competitive in the marketplace.
Having a centralized strategic meetings management platform allows an entity to ensure its suppliers are adopting and adhering to their standards and policies as an extension of the internal team.
As an example, with recent changes to GDPR requirements, procurement teams were able to seamlessly roll the new requirements down to the approved suppliers within their meetings and events program. They were able to verify adoption and establish that all aspects had been adhered to, thus limiting the organization’s overall exposure.
With pharmaceutical companies, as an example, there are certain compliance regulations that must be adhered to in order to operate meetings in which doctors and other healthcare practitioners attend.
Centralized supplier procurement allows the company to fully vet any supplier that will interact with healthcare practitioners as it relates to meetings, making certain that they are skilled in compliance reporting and procedures, thus limiting the organization’s — as well as attendees’ — liability.
3) Reporting & analytics
Another benefit of a strategic meetings management program is the rich data that comes from meeting and event information that’s registered within the tool. Reporting becomes available with the push of a button to provide the data that can then be used to optimize spend and make strategic decisions around meetings execution.
Here are some examples of analytics that could benefit your organization:
- Overall volume of meetings and events.
- Savings metrics based on contract negotiations: Are you achieving, exceeding, or missing your savings targets?
- Comparison of savings across hotels brands: Are some brands significantly higher or lower than other brands? Should you consider shifting market share?
- Number of cancelled meetings: How frequently have you been successful in reusing the cancelled space?
- Comparison of contract signature date to meeting start date: Is there a reasonable lead time, or is there a short booking window that could be leading to higher-than-necessary costs?
- Attendee data — internal vs. external attendees and the geographic locations they originate from.
- Adoption and compliance metrics from exception reports.
- Real-time reporting on meeting and event locations.
With these three examples now in mind, our hope is that this discussion of meetings management and its advantages will be of value to you as you make informed decisions and strategies about your own operations.
Should you have questions about this, or any other aspects of event management, please reach out to us today.