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Figures matter:

How a comprehensive approach to data can benefit your meetings and events program

Let’s begin by saying that data is not a technology issue. It is a people challenge. Today, corporations encounter vast volumes of data, as well as new sources of data, which include figures from diverse sources, text, pictures, and other forms of unstructured data. When we focus on meetings and events activity, data is pulled from many directions: hotel reservations, travel bookings, instalments paid to venues, payments made to large suppliers or small suppliers, card payments and even cash payments in some parts of the world. Event costs and payments are only one part. Think for a moment about all of the attendee data needed to organise an event. From email addresses to dietary requirements, personal information needs to be stored securely and used wisely.  

There are crucial questions that only data can answer. For example, how many people attended the meeting? Did they stay for the full length of the event? What was the most popular part of the event? What was the overall satisfaction level? What was the final price per attendee? 

The responses to those questions may interest different departments that, after all, belong to the same entity. However, at a company, what is relevant for one department may not be for another. For example, a marketing department in a particular country decides to run a big event aimed at their local prospects focussing on quality while global procurement is inclined to achieve cost control. Recognising these differences requires stakeholders' engagement and agreements to make changes. A strategic meetings management (SMM) space can facilitate these conversations and find mechanisms to make them work.  How can these expectations converge? With figures. Data can cement the idea that you can work together and get expected results. 

One step ahead  

We subscribe to the philosophy that what gets measured gets improved, and that data leads to better decision making. With improved processes, using our total meetings management (TMM) methodology, you can easily adapt to tracking elements of the meeting that were typically outside of SMM. Before the pandemic, most organizations spent around 70% of their budget on small meetings, a spend category rarely tracked or managed. Other examples include the shift from live to virtual events and then how quickly they began to shift back or the importance of sustainability. Many organizations are working towards making their events more sustainable and then assessing how they stack up against other companies in their space. 

It‘s argued that an estimated 80-90% of all new data is unstructured, according to research by digital publication Analytics Insight, meaning that it is not easily captured or made quantifiable. The fluidity of events data compounds the complexity of managing this category in a way that consistently delivers value for your program.  Data cuts across traditional organizational boundaries, often without clear ownership. Many companies prefer to collect and own their own data. The challenge that can arise here is knowing what to do with the intelligence collected. Simply reporting results is not enough and we need to utilize data to drive business decisions and expand program reach. With increased global visibility, program value can be delivered in the form of savings, efficiencies, reduction of risk, and improved service quality. 

The right technology

A comprehensive business intelligence strategy begins with having the right technology, configured in the right way to track and uncover opportunities that exist while supporting overarching organizational objectives. By tracking your meeting at every step of the event life cycle you are supporting company goals, enabling efficiencies, and driving the importance of policy adoption. 

The TMM approach to data

SMM is and will continue to be the foundation of meetings management and without it you cannot establish the baseline for your overall program.  It is also how you measure the health and maturity of where your program is within the life cycle. Taking the next step into TMM allows you to be a pioneer in the industry, tracking data elements when they are important to your business and helping you make real time decisions in a strategic and comprehensive way.  With a TMM approach to data and heightened data visibility, focused strategies can be put in place to showcase meetings as an enabler to business. In summary, it will allow you to:  

  • Negotiate more competitive deals
  • Drive accountability to suppliers
  • Expose expenditure versus budget
  • Reduce risk and adhere to compliance policies
  • Ensure adherence to preferred rates and concessions
  • Design behavioral analytics for more targeted communications to attendees
  • Measure customer satisfaction and adapt as necessary

The data, when structured in the right way, will allow you to engage, educate, and influence different stakeholder groups and gain momentum against organizational objectives.

As you can see, collecting data is only part of the equation. Data analysis and the insights that can be drawn are essential to the success and evolution of your program. 

Rachel Lunderborg - Senior Director | Global Process and Technology CWT Meetings and Events

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