August 20, 2019
By Julie Haddix
In the event management space, a logical assumption would be that larger format meetings, given their scope and breadth, absorb most of a company’s meetings budget. In actuality, for many companies, as much as 50 percent of their meeting spend goes towards managing small meetings, according to industry sources. Managing the spend for these meetings and understanding their scope can be challenging. Centralized meetings management programs don’t always have visibility into small or simple meetings, as they are often planned by admins or other non-professional planners whose activities fly under the radar.

Small or Simple Meetings

There is a debate currently in the event management industry about whether to call these events small meetings or simple meetings. A small meeting can have complex requirements, while a larger meeting may require less effort. The general agreement is that process management should be more around meeting complexity, and thus the trend to use the term “simple meetings” versus “small meetings.” These meetings generally draw fewer than 50 attendees, are less complex to handle in terms of hotel spend for sleeping rooms and sourcing venue space, and require far less time and effort for planners.

Small/Simple Meetings Challenges

Given that these meetings are often sourced by admins or other non-professional planners, their owners often lack negotiating skills, industry know-how, and familiarity with venue terms and contracts. There is often an absence of duty of care, whereby companies don’t know where meetings are being held, who’s attending and how event costs are being handled.

A Starting Point

There are a number of ways in which companies can get a handle on small meeting management. Depending on the organization, some companies have dedicated internal groups to handle simple meetings while others turn to outside providers or on-demand venue partners to manage these events.  The key initiatives that these internal or external teams need to tackle are venue sourcing and selection, negotiations, contracting, meals, hotels, onsite support, and attendee tracking and management. Perhaps one of the best ways to start is to get a clear understanding of who is handling these meetings to manage cost and all of the usual processes of running these events. The centralized planning team needs this information before it can get started.  Once this information is determined, it helps to take a step back from the event itself and ask this simple question: “What is the business challenge that I’m trying to solve?” In other words, what is the desired learning(s) that I want attendees to take with them? Do these desired takeaways fit with an event that is less complex, involving fewer people and deliverable at a lower price point? Once you’re able to answer these questions, you have a foundational platform from which you can more readily develop a strategy, a compliance program, a sales approach and appropriate technology to share your messages with attendees.

Benefits of Simple/Small Meetings Management

Whether you’ve selected an internal team or external provider, managing simple meetings effectively provides companies with the following benefits:
  • Placing the duty of care in the hands of dedicated experts
  • Streamlining processes
  • Adherence to compliance needs
  • Mitigating risk
  • Savings on event costs by negotiating more favorable rates
  • Better use of resources
  • Better visibility into the meeting itself
  • Exceptional reporting capabilities through improved tracking
Given their sizeable share in a company’s overall meetings mix from a numbers and budget standpoint, small or simple meetings don’t need to be intimidating. Hopefully, this offers a framework to get started on the right path to effective small meeting management. For more information on this topic, please visit here.
Julie Haddix Headshot

Julie Haddix

Julie Haddix is the Senior Director, Industry Solutions for Cvent, Inc. She has worked for Cvent for over 13 years and helped to build the company’s Enterprise sales and marketing divisions, including its approach to Strategic Meetings Management. Julie has also been a part of the planning team for Cvent CONNECT, Cvent’s annual user conference, leading the event marketing and content development efforts. In her current role, she oversees strategic content direction for the event marketing and management platform. Julie graduated from the McIntire School of Business at the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Commerce and concentrations in Marketing and Management. She lives in Westchester County, NY with her husband and 2-year-old son.
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