Trevor Elswood shares some of the benefits of meetings management, and asks why many companies are still slow to get to grips with it.
People often forget the broader benefits of managing meetings, as I emphasised in my last post, a new approach to putting meetings management at the heart of managing travel, if you effectively manage meetings, you get a better handle and real management of your travel spend. In essence, rather than treating meetings as the afterthought, it should be at the start.
So what are the other benefits of this specialist approach?
Savings should be a given if you’re working with experts! Specialists can buy smarter than those who don’t really know or understand the sector, the trends, the venues, or how to navigate supplier partnerships. From day one in the hand of experts organisations reduce their costs without compromise. Specialist expertise unlocks added value, drives intelligent negotiations, and ensures organisations get more from their budgets.
But there are strategic benefits other than immediate and obvious direct savings. They rang out loud and clear for me at a recent venue-sourcing customer review meeting. Our customer talked of the wider organisational impact that they’re realising through our turn-key approach. We have fundamentally connected the organisation and new stakeholders are accessing and recognising the real benefits of Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) that is in the safe and expert hands of specialists.
Efficient use of space
By blending meetings data both internal and external you get intelligent insight that enables facilities managers to be more effective in optimising costly real estate space. The dimensions and layouts of company-owned meeting rooms more often than not can be re-configured to meet the demand for the most popular meeting sizes. It can prevent many meetings from being pushed to external paid-for venues because of lack of the right office meeting space configuration.
We have simplified the complex, creating a single view of meeting demand from multiple data sets. This insight helps understand the key trends (lead times, meeting numbers, meeting durations and cancellation so as to power intelligent decisions and organisational planning. In Capita Travel and Events’ case we built the very technology that manages that internal meeting space management alongside external venue sourcing – online and offline.
I am often surprised to find organisations with well-considered pre-travel authorisation policies don’t replicate the governance for arranging meetings. Approval processes to hold a meeting or incur costs, and venue contract sign-off controls are often missing. Consider the costs and liabilities of your average meeting - the venue, the delegate travel to that venue, and incidental expenses of travel.
It’s difficult to comprehend why managing that risk exposure isn’t the norm, especially when you compare it with the value of the average transatlantic flight. Employees are signing on the dotted line for weighted venue supplier contracts and cancellation policies, often without any guidance from specialists or even a basic check-list of what to look out for.
Positive outcomes of the investment
And then we come to the impact certain meetings and conferences have on organisational brand. It’s a common concern within organisations and one we hear as a problem many C-suite executives raise with us as a “problem to fix” when they seek help to manage key meeting better.
Their investment in a conference or event is just that - an investment - so it has to deliver results. Venue choice and the micro detail of the arrangements (timings, lighting, ceiling height, menu choice etc) play a significant part in how the customer or attendee feels about the organisation and its intended message. All these considerations are second nature to specialists.
So the big question remains, why are so many organisations still slow in getting to grips with strategic meetings management?