According to our latest figures, 54% of companies have benefited from Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) for several years now. But apart from being an acronym you don’t want to get wrong, what is it exactly?
A management model that began in the mid-90s, SMM combines strategy, operations, and business intelligence to enable clients to manage their meetings and events program across their enterprise, resulting in a consistent attendee experience, measurable business objectives and consistent savings.
In fact, quantitative savings can range between 10 and 25% off the original spend before setting up the program. And savings aren’t the only perk. An SMM program increases spend transparency, boosts negotiating power, helps you to mitigate risks, and improves regulatory compliance.
There are a number of factors that influence the development of an SMM program. Internal factors such as company goals, configuration and culture play a crucial role in the structure of an SMM program as do external factors such as industry trends and geography of the company’s stakeholders and meetings.
What has resulted is a continuum of programs that range from fully mature global models to hybrid programs that encompass a few key components.
Asia remains one of the least mature regions globally for SMM for various reasons.
Local market nuances have resulted in highly manual processes that may not fit a global framework on which most technology is engineered. Furthermore, short planning lead times impact productivity and resource planning. Still, organisations in this part of the world are recognizing the value of SMM and the concept is quickly gaining traction.
Many companies perceive the lack of a unique model or standard as making the SMM model complex. In fact, the opposite is true. That there are so many potential configurations underscores the flexibility of SMM programs. Putting a program in place does not have to be an onerous or daunting task. Many of today’s most effective programs started small and grew from there, building on their successes.
Here are some tips that will allow you to create a killer program and benefit from its many perks:
Focus on strategy first and tactics second
A sound and customised strategy is critical to achieving sustained success with SMM. The tactics of how to source, what services to outsource versus insource, who to partner with, how to process payments, technology choices, and policy issuance all need to stem from the central strategy.
Don't wait for perfect data or complete alignment
Start small, show value, and grow from there. Many companies choose to start with big impact areas such as centralised venue sourcing.
Stakeholders, stakeholders, stakeholders
Identify them early, get their buy-in and consider creating an internal committee with representatives from all impacted areas and regional road shows.
Communicate your plan early
Communicate with internal parties such as business owners and meeting planners, as well as external parties like hotel partners and technology providers. These are the people who will support your program. They must fully understand your roadmap and goals.
Don’t forget the small meetings
They represent 70 to 80% of all meeting expenditure, making them an important element of any program.
Kari Wendel is VP, Global SMM Strategy & Solutions, CWT Meetings and Events
Xinling Yap is head of SMM Strategy & Solutions, Asia Pacific, CWT Meetings & Events