For years, small meetings were considered too numerous and too cumbersome to manage. However, new technologies and service providers are helping meeting managers to rethink their small-meeting strategy. Some of these solutions allow controls and provide data which is essential for strategic meetings management programs. Thus, there is a rise in organizations who are now effectively managing small meetings. Here’s my perspective on the triple-play of trends in small meetings management:
1. Shift in thinking from "small" meetings to "simple" meetings
Depending on the size and scope of an SMMP, you may define a small meeting as having fewer than 100 attendees, or fewer than 50. However, many of us cringe when we hear a 15-person board of directors meeting referred to as a small meeting, thus there is a trend to also evaluate the complexity of a meeting when categorizing it. As result, some managers are referring to our example BOD meeting as a "simple" meeting, which would be directed down a more rigorous path than a small training meeting for sales staff, which could easily be more of a self-service process, while still capturing SMMP data.
2. Streamlined booking platforms designed for simple meetings
The Bizly and Groupize small meeting booking solutions each operate differently, but both have vastly altered or eliminated the traditional request for proposal so that processes are streamlined, communications are tracked within the system, and agreements can be finalized in days and even hours, versus weeks. Additionally, both platforms can accommodate preferred agreements and provide data reporting, among other features.
3. Booking solutions for alternative meetings spaces
For a growing segment of planners, there is a desire to gather in unique spaces such as restaurants, free standing event space, or purpose-built meeting facilities rather than traditional hotel meeting rooms. Kapow, VenueBook, Suits+Tables are three options that help expedite this process. These companies are relatively new, so each portfolio is in various stages of buildout. The bottom line is that there are now providers targeting non-traditional venues and providing a more satisfying process from sourcing to booking.