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3 Myths about Strategic Meetings Management

A meetings-industry veteran debunks the fictions that keep many organizations from embracing an SMMP.

By now, you’re probably aware of the benefits of a strategic meetings management program:
• rich data and reporting
• visibility into total spend
• cost savings
• risk management
• duty of care
• brand stewardship

But despite these benefits, many organizations have yet to implement an SMMP. I believe this may be the result of three prevailing myths.

Myth 1: You Must Have a Centralized Meetings Department for an SMMP to Succeed
An SMMP is even more valuable in a decentralized environment.

You will need to implement a process for meeting and event owners to register their event and provide basic specs like date, size, desired location, purpose, and target audience. This is usually done through a technology platform. Some of the more common platforms are Cvent, Aventri, Bizly, and PlannerHero. Others are joining the marketplace as well.

Venue sourcing is the primary service of the platforms, ensuring consistency in contracting language, negotiated pricing, preferred chain usage, etc. Guidelines and resources can be provided to planners responsible for delivery of the event.

The big value lies in the systems’ data and reporting. Knowing where and when events are taking place is critical, especially in times of crisis. Rich data also helps drive negotiations for savings. And finally, marketing can get a clear view of the event calendar for the whole company.

Myth 2: SMMP Requires a Big Budget
Well-designed programs can pay for themselves, or at least come close.

You don’t need a big budget to implement a successful SMMP. It is not necessary to have a dedicated team on retainer and your own technology license. If your event portfolio is a modest size, a sourcing agency can assign a team that also supports other clients. This way, you have a team that knows your needs, without unnecessary cost. Agencies usually have a central technology license, so you won’t need your own.

You’ll benefit from consolidated buying power for added savings. Also, agency fees may be partially or completely offset by commissions, so cash outlay is minimized. These programs often pay for themselves. It’s not unrealistic to anticipate a 100-percent return on investment. How would it feel to report that kind of success to management?

Myth 3: You Need an End-to-End Event Management Solution
You might not need this. Consider a more focused approach.

Many technology platforms offer end-to-end event management modules, including attendee management, content and speaker management, budgeting, integration to travel booking tools, mobile apps, and so on. These are great offerings, but you might not need them, at least not yet. They can also add to the timeline and complexity of implementation because more stakeholders need to be included.

Many companies start with venue sourcing and contracting, along with a payment solution. Many of the benefits of an SMMP—savings, risk mitigation, visibility, and reporting—come from these primary activities. As the program matures, you can always add more features if it makes sense. You may decide to do a “best-in-class” solution for attendee management, budgeting, or mobile apps if the integrated platform doesn’t meet your needs in all areas.

The bottom line: It is possible to achieve the benefits of SMMP for your company without a huge investment of time or money. If you’re wondering about first steps, download this SMMP Getting Started Checklist

This article originally appeared on the Strategic Event Procurement blog.

Therese Jardine is principal and founder of Strategic Event Procurement. Before launching her own company, Jardine spent 18 years with Microsoft, most recently as senior program operations manager, Microsoft Events and Studios.

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