Simple meetings make up more than half of corporate meetings, yet 52 percent of companies book these meetings outside of “managed” meetings channels, according to research by the Global Business Travel Association. Megan Higgins is working to change that.
Bringing small and simple meetings under the Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) umbrella can provide huge benefits, from buying power and spend transparency to risk mitigation and planning efficiency, said Megan Higgins, CMP, HMCC, senior clinical events specialist, Corindus, a Siemens Healthineers Company.
“Most small meetings spend is not captured in meeting and travel spend data. We could double our leveraging power as meeting and travel professionals if we could capture and synthesize that data. Capturing that data also enables companies to track the ROI of small meetings,” she noted.
Mitigating risk and encouraging compliance to regulations and company policy are also potential wins. “Admins, sales managers and others whose jobs are not focused on meeting planning generally are not aware of compliance issues, cost-control policies such as meal caps, and the availability of in-house resources such as approved contract language. Often people are signing contracts without proper authority.”
The first step is to define your company’s version of simple meetings, she said. Many planners use the 10-10-10 rule: 10 people, 10 room nights on peak night, and $10,000 event budget. “That is too simple,” said Higgins. “It is a function of complexity as well as size and is different for every company. At Corindus, we are now saying that any time two or more healthcare professionals are involved in a meeting requiring travel or meeting space, we want to that it is being managed correctly.”
While pulling 100% of small and simple meetings into the SMM program might be the ultimate goal, Higgins advised planners to start with small steps. “You might launch with a small test group of non-traditional planners who use your system for sourcing. That at least mitigates risk on the contract, financial and legal sides and ensures that the person signing the contract has signing authority.”
Companies such as Groupize and Bizly are newer technologies driving advancements which make it easier for non-professional organizers to plan small meetings, she noted. “Some systems even track RSVPs. While they don’t replace legacy event management systems like Cvent entirely, some of these systems work directly with hotels and restaurants, so admins can select, book, and pay online and it is one, two, three, and done. The data on who attended and how much was spent can then be pushed into your company’s global reporting.”
Leverage the data
Buying power is just one advantage of pulling all the meeting data into one transparent reporting system. Finance can reset policies based on the findings; for example, they may find that using rental cars versus personal vehicle mileage reimbursement is more advantageous, she said. Similarly, realizing how many people are flying into Kansas City every month, a company might decide to have more staff based there.
“Once you have the information in front of you, you can make better decisions. We are exploring synergies and potential integrations between our event data with our sales and marketing platforms using business intelligence to gain insights into all aspects of our customers’ behavior. Soon, we’ll be able to follow a lead from an event all the way to their present relationship with the company, said Higgins.”
Want to learn more? Higgins will be speaking at an interactive session entitled: Simple Meetings at the 8th Annual Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit, February 10-12, 2020 in Boston.