Blueprint for

a next-level SMM program

CWT

November 22,  2019

Companies are shifting the way they use strategic meetings management - SMM - programs and it's opening a whole new world to them. 

Traditionally SMM programs majored on meetings in different markets, successfully streamlining the staff, the tasks, the data, the payment practices and the contracting, bringing huge benefits in cost control, policies, technologies and management of running an SMM program. 

According to CWT data, 80% of companies value this more strategic way of meetings management as a high priority. It's no surprise when you consider that on average, clients gain between 10%-25% average negotiated savings, as well as time and resource savings and from a more systematic approach to meetings around the globe.

Companies running mature SMM programs are now ready to go to the next-level and include a wider mix of events in their programs. For example, more creative events such as incentives, are now being brought into the fold. Companies want to run a full end-to-end SMM program so they have a complete overview of all their meetings spend.  

This global, end-to-end approach to all meetings and events neatly ties in with the emerging trend of raising the game on attendee experience and the event part of their program. 

SMM programs bring must-have cost savings and consistency but now want to ensure that it doesn't translate to standard and boring events. SMM programs have evolved from a focus on cost savings to creating more value for attendees. 

Trends around attendee experience, technology, sustainability, security and creativity are aligning for a uniform approach but each region has its own unique demands, pressures and innovations. Companies are acting to ensure they captivate and engage audiences particularly in light of the large numbers of Millennials entering the workforce over the coming years. 

Those adults born between 1981 and 1996 have a different set of behaviours to their older counterparts, not least a shorter attention span. A Microsoft study highlighted that the average human attention span has reduced to eight seconds from 12 seconds in 2000.

What's needed is a compelling narrative, stimulating visuals and dialogue if meeting and conference sessions are to hold their attention. Two-hour sessions are now seen as too long and 30-minute sessions are the new norm. Authenticity is the Millennials' byword and this should underscore the content of any future events and meetings.

Automation and technology will be the conduit for these new-style SMM programs and they will aid in boosting engagement, enhancing networking between delegates and help event planners customize, scale and improve the overall experience. 

Events have to be live and relevant. For example, content has to embrace the social platforms being utilized by the new generation of employees to ensure greater engagement with content, giving a deeper understanding of the messaging and ultimately a meaningful connection with the brand.

Companies can make use of crowd streaming technology - which is live streaming on a large scale - to spread the event message to a wider audience outside the venue. It has the potential benefit of building brand awareness to gain additional followers, exploiting user-generated content and improving ROI and return on event. For it to work, events have to incorporate interesting elements of interactivity so that attendees have something to stream.

Embracing these new trends will help reinvigorate any SMM program, and for all sizes of company, ensure that the company objectives and goals are still firmly in sight. 

Blog author: Amy Schuerman, Director Global Sales Solutions, CWT Meetings & Events

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