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Lesley's Column

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17th October 2016

A strategic approach to meetings

A new global study shows that companies that have implemented a programme for the strategic management of meetings say their programmes are successful. The key benefits of an SMM programme are greater transparency of spend, cost reductions, improved compliance, risk mitigation and improved effectiveness.

The research found that many factors go into the make-up of a strategic meetings management programme, making each one unique.
There is a perception that the lack of a standard is because SMMs are complex. However, SMM programmes are in fact flexible and are tailored to each company’s specific requirements.
If you’re starting out, keep it simple and focus on strategy. Don’t be too ambitious to begin with, demonstrate value and then grow. Identify your stakeholders early on and get their buy-in.
Strategies typically start with centralised sourcing and contracting of hotel suppliers. This is where much of the cost transparency and saving arises, which is seen as the most important measure of success, followed by attendee and sponsor satisfaction and regulatory compliance.
A significant number of survey respondents felt they did not have enough meetings to justify a programme. However, it is believed the benefits can be realised by companies that spend as little at US$1million on meetings each year.
What is clear is that an SMM programme is rapidly becoming a necessity. The future is consolidation and companies without a strategic approach will struggle to negotiate good rates or secure space.
If you want to check where your company sits in relation to SMM programmes, take a look at the GBTA Strategic Meetings Management Maturity Index. The GBTA Guide to Strategic Meetings Management is available free to members worldwide in the Resources section of the Hub at