Meet me halfway

4 December 2012
Strategic meetings management is a discipline requiring expertise, knowhow and patience. Everyone seems to be aware of the theory, but is anyone really seeing it in practice? I’ve been speaking to a number of hoteliers who recognise the ‘talk’ but are not seeing evidence of corporate organisations ‘walking the walk’. The most common reasons for this are a lack of in-house expertise, the absence of a central team managing meetings and events spend, and a lack of corporate and procurement desire to tackle the issue. Selecting hotels for the purposes of meetings and events can be an emotive decision as even for a single event there will be multiple stakeholders with personal preferences in respect of the type of property they like to use or be seen in. However, do these emotional responses indicate which venue is best for the event and its objectives? Typically, the answer is ‘no’. Company procurement departments are now applying purchasing discipline to the process of venue selection and contracting. But, does procurement focus too much on cost and ignore the value proposition within venue selection, thereby adding time and financial costs through the operational disadvantages this brings? Listening to the experts within organisations, it seems the answer is ‘all too often’. Strategic meetings management is about finding the right balance within your business when making purchasing decisions. Understanding and communication are, as ever, fundamental in ensuring a solid foundation for the journey ahead. A strategic meetings management programme will progress through different stages of maturity, adding greater value and savings as it passes through each phase. This can be measured on quality of meetings, compliance to policies, meetings completed on or below budget, meetings actively managed and realised or implemented cost savings. The growing maturity of a strategic meetings management programme, over a period of anywhere between one to five years, will gradually have a positive effect on the performance of all these areas. The process will create internal challenges for organisations, as individual departments and stakeholders must change their approach towards supporting the sum total of all its parts to achieve the overall strategic objectives of the organisation and its clients. However, if supported from the very top, the organisation will create greater understanding, strengthen and grow as a result. ☛ Alan Newton is global supply chain director at Grass Roots EventCom, part of Grass Roots
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