Information is Power
My Take: Strategic Perspective
"Information is power" is an over used term that has now become a reality for today's meeting planners. Why? Because expectations from senior management demand more value and accountability, or simply put, the need to validate and report increased meeting value and ROI.
The Strategic Meeting Management (SMM) initiative is here to stay and clearly has changed the rules of engagement and now require a shift from "logistics to strategic" thinking. Whether your meeting responsibilities are enterprise wide, focus on a department, division or a cluster of meetings, instant access to quality meeting data is essential.
Start Mining (and using) Meeting Data To Maximize Value
Start with meeting activity information that you control. Create a meeting activity grid and capture:
- Break down of each meeting, location and number of attendees for the past year-18 months
- Rooms contracted by night and actual pick-ups (including pre & post room nights)
- Peak night pattern / flexibility
- Total meeting & event space needed on heaviest day (assess from RFP)
- Spend, by category (sleeping rooms, group F & B, AV, business center, etc)
- Spend by individual hotel and chain
- Hotel contract / addendum terms (goal to reduce risk / cost avoidance)
As you plan future meetings, leverage meeting spend and history for maximum results. A hotel's biggest profit center is sleeping rooms (77% average) and group F & B is second biggest (38% average), so calculate your total revenue contributions for each meeting. For future site searches, understand the season in each destination (high, shoulder, low) and determine demand over your requested dates (if you have more than one date option, focus on the dates that best accomplish your goals and drives the most overall value).
Big Picture Approach
Gathering your own meeting data is fairly easy, but getting other organization meeting history and spend can be challenging. If you are in a centralized meeting environment (meeting department, procurement), then it's a matter of gleaning meeting and spend data from all full and part time planners. Ideally you have technology tools that make data management and spend reporting easily available (if not, this is a priority).
If you are in a decentralized environment, quality data outside your own meeting activity is more difficult to obtain. You can still reach out to full and part time planners, department managers and work with accounting to track hotel and supplier deposits and payments, then follow-up with the meeting planner or sponsor requesting these payments.. Your preferred suppliers and hoteliers have meeting history and spend reports, so tap into that information too.
There are many other important pieces of the puzzle, including identifying management's vision and expectations, identifying meeting requesters and sponsors, how meetings are approved, creating a master meeting calendar, evaluating preferred suppliers, current meeting policies and procedures, to name a few.
Conducting a company meeting needs assessment determining meeting management challenges and gaps is another part of the equation. All this research will allow you to create a Strategic Meeting Management (SMM) action plan that you can present to key managers.
A carefully planned and implemented Strategic Meeting Management (SMM) plan can save an organization 12%-20% annually, which is a good way to get senior management's attention.
Yes, information is power, so start your meeting activity and spend analysis process and become "armed and dangerous" as you communicate with senior managers. Help drive more meeting value and ROI to your organization...and boost your career in the process!
Tim Brown is CEO at Meeting Sites Resource. MSR is a global strategic meeting management solutions organization with 20 year track record of meeting excellence. This includes global hotel sourcing and custom contract negotiations, professional meeting support services, Strategic Meeting Management (SMM) consulting and advanced meeting technology.
Tim contributes articles to industry trade publications and speaks at many industry events. MSR also designs custom strategic education for planning and procurement teams. MSR is a recognition recipient of Meeting Professionals International’s Golden Paragon Award, MPI’s highest recognition for meeting excellence.
For Additional Information Contact:
Tim Brown, CEO
Meeting Sites Resource
(949) 250-7483 ext. 312