Meetings Management Questions
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) originally coined the term Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP) and defines it as the disciplined approach to managing enterprise-wide meeting and event-related processes, activities, metrics, standards, and supplier strategies to achieve business objectives, quantitative cost savings, risk mitigation and optimal service levels. Cvent offers companies and organizations a platform from which to launch or manage an SMMP while offering planners an efficient way to manage meetings and attendees.
Through the use of a single application, Cvent helps organizations implement Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) programs by automating:
- Meeting request and approval processes.
- Meeting workflow and notifications to heighten visibility into meeting activities.
- Site search, sourcing, bid comparison, and vendor selection processes.
- Administration of meeting policies.
- Meeting financial management including budgeting, payments, spend, savings, and cost avoidance.
- Attendee management including communications, registration, housing, and travel coordination.
- Single event, cross-event, and SMMP-centric reporting and analytics.
Streamline the meeting planning process with workflow and policy management, system integration, department calendars, and budgeting tools. Research cities on the Cvent Destination Guide. Compare venues and service providers on the Cvent Supplier Network and send RFPs to receive bids on your event. Balance and automate event logistics such as targeted email messaging, attendee management, payment processing, housing and travel coordination, etc. Create reports on all aspects of your meetings program, share key meetings metrics across departments, evaluate meeting ROI, and measure overall program effectiveness.
The most effective way to better manage your meeting spend is to understand your meeting activity and related expenditures, and then implement steps to control and/or leverage that spend. The first step is often registering meetings in a central database and utilizing a budgeting application that allows you to track expenses across multiple categories, sub-categories, vendors, and events. Cvent's meeting registration and budgeting tool does just that, plus it allows users to input meeting information and build budgets based on fixed costs, variable costs per attendee, or a combination of factors. Budget and payment data can be captured at customer-defined intervals beginning with the initial estimates through the reconciliation of actual meeting expenditures. Organizations can even customize savings calculations based on their own methodologies and differentiate between cost savings and avoidance.
At an individual meeting level or across events, Cvent offers visibility into payments collected versus money spent to monitor ROE—Return on Event™—in real-time. Cvent's specialized SMMP reports provide program spend and savings analysis across the enterprise. Data can also be compared by meeting types, regions, business units, or other custom-defined criteria to identify additional savings opportunities. Leverage historical bid and budget information to negotiate better individual event deals. Or, from an enterprise perspective, leverage your organization's total meeting spend in combination with transient travel spend for deeper discounts and better rates with preferred suppliers.
The top two reasons to implement a Strategic Meetings Management Program are to achieve cost savings and/or minimize risk associated with meeting and event activities. Cost savings opportunities, as described in the previous answers, are generally achievable after an SMMP has been implemented and has a chance to take hold in an organization. Companies with mandated policies may garner adoption and thus program successes sooner than those without such mandates. Even in the absence of mandates however, effectively launched and managed programs can see results once adoption is realized.
Risk mitigation can vary from the risk of damage to an organization's reputation or public perception as a result of questionable meeting activities. In today's economic environment, the appearance of lavish or extravagant meeting activities can lead to public scrutiny. Risks associated with attendee safety and security and heightened exposure to financial risk due to unfavorable contracts are other factors to consider. A well-executed SMMP can greatly reduce these risk factors.
Think of technology as the foundation or framework upon which a successful SMMP is supported. Enterprise meeting management systems can provide many essential solutions including:
- A centralized meeting registration database to capture vital meeting data
- A reporting engine to run analytics on captured meeting data, spend and savings
- Meeting budgeting and reconciliation solutions
- Online attendee management
- Meeting policy, workflow and approval automation
- Electronic RFP and standardized sourcing solutions
- Automated event marketing – communications campaigns and surveys
Because no two Strategic Meetings Management Programs are the same, it is difficult to offer a standard answer at to the duration of an implementation. The short answer is that implementations can take months to years, but the factors that influence whether a program will take more or less time are numerous.
The following are a few of the most common factors to consider when estimating timing:
- Existence of a strong program lead
- Backing of an influential executive sponsor
- Policy culture – mandated or suggested
- Current organizational structure for meetings management – centralized or decentralized
- Existence of enterprise technology
- Buy-in of key stakeholders
- The program scope – limited or global
- SMMP components to be implemented – all or just a few
As mentioned in the previous answer to estimating timing of SMMP implementations, many of the very same factors can influence the timing of a technology implementation. The Cvent Professional Services team works with clients to provide a comprehensive Implementation Plan aligned with their priorities for roll-out. Often a phased implementation can expedite adoption and thus program successes.
Many organizations recover technology costs and even show positive ROI after the first full year of use. The rate of adoption, mandated system use, and existence of a strong internal champion are a few factors that will yield better results. The rate of ROI is also influenced by the features or SMMP components implemented. For example, if meeting venue sourcing moves from a manual, decentralized process to an automated model with more standardized practices, resulting cost and efficiency savings can be achieved fairly quickly.
A custom-built meeting management system generally means a more significant up-front investment than purchasing an "off-the-shelf" type of solution. While proprietary systems can be designed specifically for the end-user, the ability to keep pace with rapidly changing business requirements make ongoing maintenance of such systems difficult and costly.
Cvent is committed to the ongoing refinement of its meeting management platform as demonstrated by its regular schedule of product enhancement releases. Two to three times each year, major product enhancements are released based on direct feedback from system users and prioritized to meet current industry demands.