News For Planners

Ideas for facilitating strategic meetings management programs

Friday, 8/12/2011  1:34:11 PM

Strategic meetings management (SMM) is the practice of ensuring that your business' meetings are run as efficiently as possible, which makes the most of your company's time, money and other resources. These tasks usually fall to an organization's meeting planner, whose job it is to ensure that all in-person meetings are well-planned, well-executed and run on a tight budget. These professionals are essential especially to businesses that frequently require their executives to travel because poorly made travel plans can squander a business' budget faster than anything else.

"Meeting planners are at risk unless they can prove the value of a companies meeting spending by ensuring meetings are happening the right way, for the right cost and for the right reasons," explains Steve O’Malley, the Vice President and General Manager for the alliance company Maxvantage, a derivitive of American Express Business Travel and Maritz Travel. "Aligning meetings programs to corporate objectives and having the data to demonstrate the impact of meeting spending are critical to short and long-term success."

In order to install an effective SMM program in your business, consider the following ideas:

1. Data management: Data is one of a meeting planner's most useful tools. By becoming familiar with company data, a planner can understand their own business's meeting spending habits and see how they stack up to similar institutions.

2. Cut your supply chain short: If a company uses different suppliers for sourcing, planning and productions, there's a good chance that they're spending more than they need to. By consolidating your supply chain with a single company, businesses can often receive bundle discounts that will help them stay under budget.

3. Involve attendees: Planning a meeting under budget is wonderful, but if that meeting isn't effective, the money is wasted. Make sure to get feedback from meeting participants so that you can improve the process, and be sure that you're careful budgeting isn't stripping meetings of their essentials.

4. Support from senior management: It can be hard to get senior management on board with SMM programs, especially if the organization doesn't already employ a meetings planner. Too often, they see the cost of these programs and not the overall savings. If management isn't aware of the value of SMM, it's time to clue them in.

For more articles and tips on meeting and planning, please visit

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