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Simple Meetings Versus Small Meetings: It Pays to Get It Straight

There has been a subtle shift in terminology over the past couple of years from "small" meetings to "simple" meetings, a change with which I agree. This shift recognizes that not all small meetings are simple and that large meetings of 100 or 200 people with basic requirements can, in fact, be simple, compared to a complex 20-person board of directors meeting or 30-person advisory board event. Recently, the Global Business Travel Association suggested a definition for a simple meeting to be "typically a small meeting with basic, replicable requirements." We would not usually think of a 200-person meeting as simple, but if people are gathering for one day in one room, with a lunch and a reception, I think you would agree that this could be considered a simple meeting.

Simple meetings are under-managed by many organizations because of the faulty belief that they're not worth the effort. The thought is that there is not enough money or volume to be concerned about tracking them. GBTA unveiled some research this summer that questions this notion. Below are four interesting findings from the GBTA research data:

• Simple meetings make up 50 percent of corporate meetings on a global basis.
• 42 percent of respondents did not track small meeting expenditures.
• 52 percent booked meetings outside of managed meeting channels, such as e-RFP tools, sourcing agencies, or meeting management agencies, indicating missed savings opportunities.
• Consumer channels are widely used to book simple meetings, which is a lost opportunity to take advantage of negotiated rates.

Call to action: If you have a meetings management program and have made a decision to not manage simple meetings at this time, I suggest that you reconsider. It's time to put processes in place to capture simple meetings data so that you can begin closing the gap around missed savings, ensuring proper visibility to meeting data, providing duty of care for attendees, and automating a very manual process.

Simple meetings tip: Evaluate your business-travel transient program hotels to determine if a subset of that might be practical targets for simple meetings. This can help to boost your overall spend with one hotel brand or chain, which in turn will give you additional buying power.

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