Companies can realize substantial savings by following strategic meetings management (SMM) standards, according to a recent study.
That’s a messsage travel managers need to hear as meeting and event planning increasingly falls within their departments.
The study by the Boston-based Aberdeen Group found that compliant companies reported 167% higher cost savings compared to similar non-compliant companies.
Need for cost cutting
Nearly two-thirds of survey participants, 63%, said the need to cut costs was the number one factor moving them toward strategic meetings management. Improving visibility for all aspects of meeting management came in second at 51%.
The study was sponsored by meetings management provider ACTIVE Network and released at the recent Global Business Travel Association convention.
“This survey is the formal validation of the whole strategic meetings proposition,” said Anthony Miller, ACTIVE Network vice president of industry strategy & business development.
“Anyone who has worked with SMM has seen the improvement in spending and results, but now we have data to validate what has been anecdotal, a gut feeling that SMM is a positive move,” said Miller.
“Now we have research to show just how it helps companies, attendees and planners.”
Relevant to travel managers
Travel managers need to pay attention because meetings and events are increasingly falling under the travel department.
Kevin Iwamoto, ACTIVE’s Vice President of Industry Strategy, said travel managers have largely consolidated their own operations.
Consolidating meetings and events spend is the next logical step. Strategic meetings management is the most effective way to do that and travel is the logical place to start.
“There is a real convergence of travel and meetings as companies cut back on spending,” he said.
“About 60% of meetings involve travel somewhere in the process. You need technology to consolidate your data from all of these different channels.”
More programs, fewer resources
The problem is that travel managers and meeting managers are all trying to run more programs with fewer resources.
Placing meetings and events under the travel department helps consolidate spending, market share and policy implementation.
Consolidation makes meeting planning more efficient so meeting managers can stage more events with the same budget.
The most effective SMM programs are typically run under the procurement umbrella, Iwamoto said.
Procurement departments usually have more expertise in budget management and consolidation making them more likely to understand the benefits of the strategic meetings management approach.
“Procurement is your friend,” said Iwamoto. “They are an enabler in the process, not a barrier. We are a very procurement-friendly technology.
“We can help bridge the gap with procurement and show them how to embrace the SMM process,” he said.
“The ultimate goal, our nirvana, is complete transparency to 100% of meeting spend for every event no matter how large or how small.”