18 January 2010 | Rebecca Ellinor
Most businesses grossly underestimate what they spend on meetings and conferences, Amon Cohen has found, writing in the latest issue of SM.
In a special issue exploring business travel trends for 2010 out this week (21 January), Cohen, a business travel writer, discovered that inadequate processes and tools meant most organisations had no clue how much they spent in this area.
He suggested buyers made the case to bosses for a strategic meetings plan to capture and measure spend, improve negotiation power and reduce cost and risk.
Securing buy-in is tough, but a white paper from StarCite, a provider of meetings management technology, put forward that the answer was to demonstrate how the programme would nail key strategic targets for the business, such as cost reduction. It said the plan should include why there was a need for a meetings programme, as well as likely short-term and long-term costs, plus expected benefits and an implementation strategy.
Kevin Iwamoto, StarCite’s vice-president of enterprise strategy, suggested packaging up the business plan into two parts. The first part should be an executive summary, including key findings, business challenges and recommended solutions as well as the estimated return on investment. The second, more detailed, part of the plan would include best practice processes and benchmark data with comparable organisations, plus the deployment strategy and a cost breakdown.
Experts say it is also important to have the right people present the business case to senior management. Joint representation from the travel, procurement, legal, IT and human resources teams would strengthen the argument considerably.
* Read the full article on how to build a case for a strategic meetings programme in the 21 January issue of SM.