NBTA White Paper--good for planners, too

A guest blog from Susan Hatch, executive editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives:

The National Business Travel Association white paper on meeting consolidation kicked up some dust on the MIMlist meetings industry listserv last week, with one planner "shocked and appalled" by what she took to be Meeting Professionals International's endorsement of a paper she believed implied that "business travel managers can more effectively manage meetings; therefore meetings departments should report to business travel departments."

Paranoid much?

The NBTA white paper is a service to the meeting planning community, and MPI should be envious that it doesn't have its name at the top.

I recommend you read it for yourself. The work done by NBTA's Groups and Meetings Committee, chaired by Madlyn Caliri, global hotel and meetings program manager at AT&T, and Tracey Wilt, purchasing consultant, travel and meetings services for Xerox Corp., focuses on two key areas: 1) building a business case for a "strategic meeting management program" (identifying opportunities for process improvement, risk management, cost savings, etc.) and 2) best practices in corporate meeting consolidation (standards for meeting approvals, data collection, sourcing, etc.).

The NBTA's meeting committee was launched in March 2003 to address the reality that some NBTA members--travel managers--are being asked to also manage meetings and events, and the association formed an alliance last August with MPI. The consolidation white paper is the meeting committee's first product. Sure, it's useful to a travel manager or a purchasing professional who needs to take control of meetings, but I would argue that it's just as useful to meeting managers who want to keep their jobs. If your department isn't tracking and leveraging your company's meeting spend, you can be sure that there's another department that will.

Data collection and strategic sourcing may not have been in the job description you started with, but for corporate meeting planners who want to stay in the game, ignore it at your own risk. The meeting planning community is fortunate that NBTA has made its white paper public, and I for one look forward to reading its upcoming research on insourcing versus outsourcing, developing meeting policy, technology options, and more.

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