Strategic Meetings Management (SMM): Tech Talk

Strategic Meetings Management is not a just a knee jerk reaction to the recession, but a meeting management “value and accountability” model essential for today’s planning teams. 
As planners focus on SMM and meeting ROI, technology is thrust into the spotlight. The following are highlights from my conversation with Rob Wilson, MCSE, President of Meeting Evolution software, a leading specialist in SMM technology solutions.

Q. Tim Brown – I think it’s safe to say that there is significant confusion on how technology can streamline workflow, integrate key meeting management functions and generate timely management and financial reports that demonstrate real meeting value. How do you see it?

A. Rob Wilson – Today, planners are doing more with less and are under pressure from senior management to validate success. Look at technology as the enabler to achieve this, driving increased team productivity, added meeting value, custom contracting process, managing real time budgets and 24/7 reporting capabilities, including cost savings / risk reduction report, by meeting.

Q. TB - I have heard you use the term “breaking down data in silos” …what are the dynamics for planning teams?

A. RW – A critical component of SMM and ROI is transparent metrics to define, measure, benchmark and report success. Often, meeting data is difficult to find and time consuming to create, so timely and accurate management and financial reporting is a challenge. Planning teams must have immediate access to data and robust reporting that keep senior managers informed and drives strategic decisions.

Q. TB – Explain the custom hotel contract process and benefits.

A. RW – Meeting Evolution has the capability for a planner to integrate their company approved hotel contract or addendum in the system. We suggest a custom contract, ready for signature that includes all contract components, value added concessions, hotel fees and surcharges (eliminate or reduce), hotel performance clauses (based on lost profit, not revenue) and company legal language. This process adds significant meeting value, generates real cost savings and validates mitigated damages.

Q. TB – You have mentioned both metrics to define and measure success and the need for timely meeting management reports. This is not an easy process, what data is essential and how do planners make this fit in their individual environments?

A. RW – Whether planners are responsible for enterprise wide meetings, meeting activity for a division or department, they need quick and reliable data to assure success. Spend management is an important part of the equation and Meeting Evolution delivers robust data management including spend by individual hotel or chain (sleeping rooms, group F&B, AV / production), contracted rooms vs. actual pick-ups, cost savings, risk reduction, track meeting cancellation credits and more.

Q. TB – If a planning team is interested in implementing Strategic Meetings Management (SMM), how do you suggest they proceed?

A. RW – There is no one size fits all solution and planning teams must conduct their own needs assessment and carefully plan and implement an SMM plan tailored to their needs. They must understand how many meetings are conducted annually, who plans meetings, full and part-time, what is the meeting approval process and overall spend, by category. It is important to know what technology tools and resources are already being utilized and what is needed to assure SMM, ROI and data management outcomes.

Q. TB – I will close by asking you putting you on the spot…there are hundreds of technology products in the marketplace boasting SMM capabilities. Why Meeting Evolution?

A. RW – Good question. Meeting Evolution was built by meeting planners for meeting planners and the co-architect of our software is Jennifer W. Brown, CMP, SMMC and former Director of Meeting Services at PriceWaterhouseCoopers for 15 years.

Meeting Evolution integrates all facets of the meeting management process, including meeting approval process, master meeting and event calendar, global hotel / supplier database, RFP / sourcing, custom hotel contracting, robust budget module with all data downloaded from e-proposals and immediate access to allcurrent and past meeting activity and reports. Other meeting functions can also be integrated, including registration / housing / attendee management.

Our total focus is integrating core meeting management components essential in today’s planning landscape, with 24/7 access to business intelligence that enhances SMM outcomes. Meeting Evolution is user friendly, fully APEX compliant and follows SMM standards. Our team continues to add new capabilities based on user feedback and senior meeting planner focus groups. SMM is here to stay and Meeting Evolution will continue to take a leadership role in delivering an umbrella of high impact solutions.

TB - Thanks Rob, good conversation and I look forward to additional future dialogue on this topic.
If you are interested in knowing more about Meeting Evolution technology that delivers SMM outcomes, contact:

Rob Wilson, MCSE
Meeting Evolution
(913) 897-8234
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tim Brown is CEO at Meeting Sites Resource. MSR is a global strategic meetings management solutions organization with a 20 year track record of meeting excellence. This includes global hotel sourcing and custom contract negotiations, professional meeting support services, Strategic Meetings 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.

Look for my future SMM: Tech Talk features and please let me know if you have any questions on the Strategic Meeting Management initiative or if you have an interest in a specific meeting, negotiations or technology topic.

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