Pauline Houston: Moving forward

Listen to this article

Strategic meetings management is gaining in popularity. Pauline HoustonEventia board member and Carlson Wagonlit Travel Meetings and Events’ hotel programmes director, asks whether it’s the next big thing

Strategic meetings management (SMM) is quickly becoming the new industry buzzword, but what is it all about? SMM has been defined as a disciplined approach to managing enterprise-wide meeting and event activities, processes, suppliers and data in order to achieve measurable business objectives that are aligned with an organisation’s strategic goals and vision. In short, SMM is a method of applying good business logic to meetings management. Having been prevalent in the US for a number of years, SMM’s popularity is now gathering pace.

While corporate travel is extensively managed at an enterprise-wide level by most companies, it is not always the case with meetings and events. In fact, progress varies widely, and most organisations that are beginning to embark on SMM see it as an extension of their matured business travel procurement programme.

There are significant benefits to be gained from embarking upon an SMM programme for companies, irrespective of the size, scope or maturity of their meetings and events, including incremental cost savings, improved risk management, and high levels of attendee satisfaction.

For those considering an SMM programme, while the framework is not linear, it is recommended that organisations begin with actions that enable data collection, such as implementing a registration process. This then informs decision making in other areas, including the foundational elements of the programme: Strategy, change management, policy, stakeholder management, registration of a meeting or event, approval, procurement, planning and execution, payment, data analysis and reporting and technology.

Knowing where to begin can be a daunting task, but the SMM framework provides the key steps for setting a foundation. Such is the demand for experienced SMM professionals that industry bodies such as GBTA and MPI now actively include SMM as part of their development schedules with training and accreditation programmes, and as SMM education and integration forms a significant part of our industry moving forward, it is essential to support corporations embarking on on SMM.

Perhaps, it’s the next big thing.