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Strategic Meetings Management: Why Me?

Frequently, I am asked "Why me? Why should I drive the strategic meetings management program?” Well, this column is dedicated to answering that question, why you should be the one behind the SMMP at your organization. Over the years, I have consistently focused on how important it is for meeting managers to be proactive in implementing an SMMP. Now, I expand that to both travel and/or procurement managers, assuming your company does not have a meetings manager already overseeing the meetings and events category.   

I stress the need to be proactivite for a few reasons:
• Driving SMM indicates to company leadership that you are a strategic thinker and a valuable resource.
• It's the right thing to do for the company; yet, most leadership is unaware of the opportunity that central oversight to meetings and events (and travel) can provide.
• The spend is usually very fragmented, so it takes a resolute subject-matter expert to present a solid business case to inform leadership of the potential savings and cost of inaction.

So, if you fall into one of these management categories, then I see it as your responsibility to start developing some category metrics and a hypothesis regarding the enterprise-wide meeting volume, potential savings, and efficiency gains at your organization.  This can be used to develop an initial business case in order to gain the support of senior management for an SMMP. Key elements of the business case can include:
• Enterprise-wide spend estimates for meetings and events
• Savings targets based on program strategy
• Benefits of centralized oversight of the category, including:
     1. Risk mitigation
     2. Improved duty of care
     3. Consistent processes
     4. Better outcomes
     5. Centralized information leading data-driven business decisions

If you are a supplier who has heard about SMM but are reluctant to understand it or embrace it, it’s time for a change. I see it as your obligation to learn about SMM and to support your clients who are trying to get control of their meeting spend. Not only will you learn some new skills that will differentiate you from the competition, you will position yourself better as a trusted adviser for your clients.

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