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Strategic Meetings Management:

Ready to "Think Outside the Wheel?"


Steve Jobs said it best: "Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat.” Business travel and in-person meetings and events are coming back causing many companies to recognize that this is a fantastic time to establish – or reimagine – their Strategic Meetings Management programs. Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) is a disciplined approach to managing meetings and events across an organization. It can help businesses achieve many objectives, from managing costs to mitigating risk and creating a better experience for meeting organizers and attendees.

Image of SMM wheel model. Text states We're not re-inventing the wheel we're just making it smarter.You may already be familiar with the SMM Wheel, created by the Global Business Travel Association's (GBTA) Meetings & Events Committee, representing the best-in-class standard for managing an enterprise-wide meetings and events program. While the wheel's 11 components are essential to building an effective SMM program, there is a question that remains: can these components alone help you reach your goals?

Over the years, many M&E leaders and practitioners have discovered gaps in savings and or adoption despite using the wheel as the foundation for their SMM programs. These gaps create difficulty building a business case with senior leadership, gaining stakeholder buy-in, and driving adoption for the program across the organization.

The SMM wheel has provided an excellent framework to build and establish strategic meetings and events programs for decades and will continue to guide solutions that define success within a variety of strategic program models. But what if we start thinking outside of the foundational guidance of the wheel? What can be done to elevate the methodology of the SMM wheel to ensure that your program is getting maximum value as it matures? We believe the answer lies in three unique guiding principles that can be added to the existing wheel today:

  1. Infrastructure – It is critical to have a program service model that supports the SMM strategy across your enterprise to help you achieve your goals. This infrastructure encompasses the funding model, resource model, service configuration, technology, and suppliers that you should include as part of your program. These are essential considerations to incorporate before implementing any or all 11 components on the wheel.
  2. Governance – Experienced and tested leadership appointed at all levels of your strategic program will drive change and bolster program adoption by providing oversight, consultation, and guidance. It can be done in a mandated or non-mandated environment. The oversight follows the direction of the corporate culture and objectives to align with the business goals. This supports the policy, compliance, resources, processes, and services associated with your SMM program.
  3. Administration – Operational excellence boils down to one simple concept – Effective Administration. It is the day-to-day operation and support required to execute your SMM program. It drives demand management strategies and ensures a consistent interpretation of policies and processes such as the intake of registered meetings, maintenance of the technology, the service workflow to maintain fair and balanced resources, supplier market share, continuous process improvement, and training.

Wrapping these guiding principles around the SMM wheel's components fills in the gaps around program adoption while driving your stakeholders toward smarter buying decisions that support your company’s goals.

What's more, this approach should be applied to all meetings across your organization. There is a perception that SMM only includes certain meeting types. Very often, small, virtual, hybrid, executive, and incentive meetings and events are left out of SMM program strategies. By including those meetings and events in your design, you immediately increase the leverage and value that your program can yield.

Total Meetings Management (TMM) - the future of SMM

Thinking outside the wheel is what brought CWT M&E to answer the question we hear almost daily from our customers – What's next for the evolution of SMM? We believe that what’s next is taking the great foundation of the SMM Wheel and elevating the practices by not just envisioning the future of SMM but creating it. The idea of Total Meetings Management (TMM) is not just a statement or a promise. It’s a well thought out strategy with legs, methodology and clear actions that are showing our customer’s a way to include all meetings, not just some, into their plan and strategy. It’s showing them a way forward to gain results, adoption, and real value within their SMM program.   

Want to hear more about TMM? Join the movement and let’s talk about how we can make your program TMM ready.

New to SMM and want to learn more, have an existing SMM program but don't have the adoption you were hoping for, or maybe you are looking to expand into new markets? We can help! Contact our SMM Consulting Solutions Team for more information.

Blog author:
Amy Harris, SMMC
Global Director, Client Strategy and SMM Center of Excellence

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