One of the biggest lessons learned from the pandemic, for many, came at a cost. If you had a Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) program in place pre-pandemic, you benefitted immensely from the strategies and plans that protected you from costly penalties from cancelled meetings and the ability to quickly pivot to virtual strategies with your existing dedicated staff. If you did not have a SMM program in place, you may have quickly learned the cost of not having a strategy and protections to mitigate the short- and long-term risk. If you are in the latter group, you may be ready to implement a centralized and strategic program for future protection and overall maximum value. But do you know what the important steps are to not only start your SMM program but get internal buy in to launch?
Let’s start with the basic understanding of what SMM is, apart from an acronym that many misinterpret. SMM is a management model that began in the mid-90s combining strategy, operations, and business intelligence to enable clients to centralize their meetings and events program, resulting in a consistent attendee experience, value creation, the achievement of measurable business objectives and delivery of consistent savings. In fact, quantitative savings can range between 10 and 25% of your overall spend.
Savings are not the only reward. A well planned SMM program increases spend transparency, boosts negotiating power, helps you to mitigate risks and improve regulatory compliance. There are a number of factors that influence the development of an SMM program. Internal factors, such as company goals and culture, play a crucial role in the structure of any SMM program, as do external factors, such as industry trends and geography of the company’s stakeholders and meetings.
What has resulted is a continuum of programs that range from fully mature global models to hybrid programs that encompass a few key components. Many companies perceive the lack of a unique model or standard as making the SMM model complex. In fact, the opposite is true. There are many potential configurations that can yield successful results, underscoring the flexibility of SMM methodology overall. It's not an all or nothing strategy. Many of today’s most effective programs started small and grew, building on their successes.
If you have not started your SMM journey, here are some tips that will allow you to create a top-notch program and benefit from its many rewards:
Get in touch with us if you want to learn more about SMM and to see how CWT M&E has answered the question “What’s next in SMM” contact us.
Blog author: Kari Wendel, VP Global Customer Management and Operations, CWT Meetings and Events