Does your company have a strategic meetings management (SMM) program in place? If not, it may be missing an important opportunity to cut costs and control meeting spend.
SMM programs define a company’s standard operating procedure for planning meetings and events. Some companies require every meeting request be registered with the strategic meetings management department. Some only require adherence to the policy if the number of room nights, attendees or budget exceeds a certain number.
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What should be included in your SMM program
- The company-wide meeting policy (some have a different policy for each kind of meeting, as defined by its purpose, size, audience, geographic region and/or budget)
- How (and when) planners register meeting requests
- Guidelines for the approval, tracking and auditing process
- The basic data/metrics planners must collect for each event (for example, paid attendance, attrition, etc.)
- Consequences for non-compliance
- Decision-making timelines
- Sourcing/procurement protocols and restrictions
- Guidelines for working with legal, procurement and compliance departments, as applicable
- Preferred vendors list and policy
- Maximum allowable spend on room rates and housing requirements/restrictions
- Guidelines for food and beverage, transportation, speaker/entertainment and A/V spend
- Who gets room rate commissions, loyalty points, etc.
- How to document per-person expenditures (especially for medical meetings)
- Payment and reconciliation procedures
- Deadlines for internal reports and communiqués
Other SMM benefits
In addition to cost-savings, one of the benefits of having an SMM program in place is that there is a centralized department that can determine meeting metrics and trends for the entire company. This information can provide invaluable data to the C-level suite about the value and effectiveness of the company’s meetings and events. The SMM program also can alert procurement departments if an increase in resources may be needed, due to current cost trends and escalation.
If your company doesn’t have a SMM program in place, consider at least developing a corporate meetings policy that can be distributed to all in-house planners and a system of communication that allows them to come together to share best practices, strategy and resources on a regular basis.
For more information, download “Building a Strategic Meetings Management Program” by the National Business Travel Association.
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