Strategic meetings management is a concept that’s over 20 years old but has recently taken on a new form.
As an event planner in today’s digital age, you have the opportunity to take on a much more strategic role within your organization. Gone are the days of simply executing logistical tasks and coordinating venues and catering. The meetings and events industry has evolved, and planners now have a seat at the omnichannel table, where data-driven insights and attendee experiences are top of mind.
To stay relevant, you must adapt to new technologies that allow for highly curated, personalized interactions at every touchpoint along the attendee journey. By leveraging data and analytics, you can gain a 360-degree view of your attendees and deliver targeted content that inspires action.
The role of the strategic meetings management professional has emerged, and embracing this new age of insight-driven events is critical to career growth and business success. With the right mindset and skill set, you have the chance to transform your organization’s events into a key channel for customer engagement. The time for strategic meetings management is now.
What Is Strategic Meetings Management?
Strategic meetings management (SMM) is the process of aligning your organization’s meetings and events with key business objectives and strategies.
It’s a concept developed by GBTA Global Business Travel Association that describes it as a disciplined approach to managing enterprise wide meeting and event activities, processes, suppliers and data in order to achieve measurable business objectives aligned with the organizations strategic goals/vision, and deliver value in the form of quantitative savings, risk mitigation and service quality.
As an event planner, adopting a strategic meetings management approach means taking a holistic view of how meetings and events can drive business results. Rather than planning in isolation, you collaborate with internal stakeholders to determine how to best achieve organizational goals through strategic meetings and events.
This way, you have a seat at the table in high-level conversations about key business priorities, target audiences, and omnichannel engagement strategies. You provide insights into how meetings and events can be leveraged to advance priority initiatives. It also involves post-event analysis to determine the return on investment and inform future planning.
Implementing a strategic meetings management program requires:
- Aligning meeting objectives with organizational goals
- Collaborating with internal stakeholders
- Adopting an omnichannel approach to engagement
- Determining key performance indicators and metrics for success
- Conducting post-event analysis and reporting on outcomes
By taking this approach, you transform meetings and events from isolated activities into powerful tools for achieving business results in a digital, omnichannel world. Event planners must evolve into strategic partners focused on driving ROI, business outcomes, and a seamless customer experience across channels. Adopting strategic meetings management is key to gaining a seat at the table and advancing your role as a strategic leader in your organization.
The Evolution Of Strategic Meetings Management Programs
Strategic meetings management programs have evolved significantly over the last decade. Originally focused primarily on cost savings and compliance, modern programs now emphasize the strategic value that business meetings and events provide to organizations.
The Modern Strategic Meetings Management Program
Modern strategic meetings management programs are integrated, data-driven efforts that align business meetings and events with key organizational goals and objectives. They provide stakeholders visibility into how meetings and events drive business outcomes through detailed reporting and analytics.
Today, they are also closely tied to omnichannel marketing efforts. They leverage attendee data and insights to optimize the event experience and boost marketing personalization across channels. This comprehensive approach boosts event attendance, sponsor and exhibitor participation, and overall program success.
Effective programs are also deeply collaborative. They bring together stakeholders from across the organization – including marketing, sales, product development, and executive leadership – to develop a shared vision for meetings and events. Cross-functional teams work together to set KPIs, gather data and insights, and make strategic decisions that maximize event impact.
The modern strategic meetings management program has come a long way. Today, it is an integrated, data-driven, and collaborative initiative that provides a seat at the omnichannel table and a voice in key business decisions. For organizations that get it right, these programs are a source of competitive advantage that drives growth, customer loyalty, and bottom-line results.
Benefits Of Strategic Meetings Management
Strategic meetings management provides significant benefits to organizations. By taking a holistic, strategic approach to managing your meetings and events, you can achieve the following:
Prove Event ROI
Track key performance indicators to show how your events drive business results. Measure elements like attendance, engagement, sponsor ROI, and sales to prove the value of your events.
Reduce Event Costs
Take a data-driven approach to optimize your event budget. Analyze past event costs to identify waste areas and set budgets for future events. Strategically source vendors and negotiate contracts to reduce expenses.
Identify and plan for potential risks to your event to avoid issues. Consider risks related to attendance, sponsorship, logistics, and technology and establish contingency plans. Following risk management best practices will help ensure event success.
Improve The Customer Experience
Use strategic meetings management to gain deep insights into your attendees’ needs and preferences. Curate personalized event experiences based on interests, engagement, and lifecycle stage. Deliver a seamless experience across channels to increase satisfaction and loyalty.
Streamline your processes through strategic meetings management. Centralize data, automate manual tasks, and integrate systems to optimize productivity. Cross-functional collaboration and strategic alignment across teams will minimize redundant work.
By implementing strategic meetings management, you gain critical insights and oversight into your events. This allows you to optimize spend, reduce risk, improve the experience, prove value, and increase efficiency. Elevating events to a strategic level will establish their role as a key driver of business success.
Key Components Of A Modern Strategic Meetings Management Program
To have a seat at the omnichannel table, a strategic meetings management program needs to incorporate several essential components.
First, establish a governance model with clear roles and responsibilities. Appoint a head of meetings and events to lead the program and determine key stakeholders from sales, marketing, and finance to provide strategic guidance.
Second, implement a technology solution for meetings and event management. An end-to-end event platform enables seamless planning, registration, mobile event apps, and reporting across channels. It provides a single source of truth for all event data and insights to optimize your events portfolio.
Third, develop standard operating procedures to drive consistency and compliance across your event program. This includes policies for meeting approvals, risk management, accessibility, and sustainability. Standardized processes also facilitate cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Fourth, focus on data-driven decision-making. Robust reporting and analytics on key performance indicators like attendance, revenue, cost savings, and customer satisfaction scores inform better choices on meeting locations, formats, and content. Data also highlights opportunities to improve the attendee experience through personalization and journey mapping.
Finally, provide ongoing education and training. Continuous learning opportunities around new technologies, virtual and hybrid meeting design, risk and compliance management, and emerging trends in the meetings industry will ensure your team has the skills to elevate your strategic meetings management program.
By implementing these essential components, you position your meetings and events function as a strategic lever for achieving key business goals. You gain valuable insights to enhance marketing strategies, build customer loyalty, and drive growth. In short, you earn a seat at the omnichannel table.
Integrating Strategic Meetings Management Into Your Omnichannel Strategy
To successfully integrate strategic meetings management into your omnichannel marketing strategy, you must first obtain buy-in from key stakeholders. Meet with leadership across sales, marketing, operations, and finance to communicate the benefits, including cost savings, improved attendee experience, and data-driven decision-making.
Make the Case for Investment
Present a business case highlighting how strategic meetings management can positively impact revenue, customer satisfaction, and profitability. For example, show how consolidating redundant meetings or using virtual and hybrid meeting formats can significantly reduce costs. Explain how capturing detailed attendee data and feedback helps create personalized experiences and fuels data-driven decisions. Calculate potential return on investment to demonstrate the value of events.
Determine Key Performance Indicators
Work with leadership to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure the success of your strategic meetings management program. This may include cost per lead, customer satisfaction scores, revenue generated from meetings, or percentage of meetings that achieve key objectives. Identify benchmarks to track progress and make data-driven optimizations.
Integrate With Marketing Technology Stack
Evaluate your marketing technology stack to determine how strategic meetings management solutions can integrate with existing platforms like customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing automation tools, and business intelligence dashboards. APIs and open architectures allow many strategic meetings management solutions to embed directly into tech stacks, enabling seamless data flow and single sign-on experiences for attendees.
View strategic meetings management as an ongoing initiative, not a one-and-done project. Regularly analyze KPIs and metrics, attendee feedback, and omnichannel performance to identify areas for improvement. Make incremental changes and updates to your program, sourcing new tools and services as needed. Meet with stakeholders annually to reevaluate priorities and ensure alignment between strategic meetings management, marketing, and business goals.
Through obtaining leadership buy-in, defining KPIs, integrating with marketing technology, and continuous optimization, you can implement a robust SMM program and claim your seat at the omnichannel table.
Getting A Seat At The Omnichannel Table: Making The Case For Strategic Meetings Management
To gain a seat at the omnichannel table, strategic meetings management professionals must demonstrate their value to organizational leadership. Strategic meetings management provides key benefits that positively impact an organization’s bottom line.
Strategic meetings management helps companies reduce spending on meetings and events through strategic planning and resource optimization. By analyzing historical data, professionals can determine how to achieve meeting objectives more efficiently. They identify opportunities to cut extraneous costs while still delivering impactful experiences.
Strategic meetings management uses analytics to gain actionable insights into meeting performance and attendee engagement. Access to comprehensive data enables professionals to make evidence-based recommendations to leadership on how to improve future meetings. With data demonstrating a clear ROI, leadership will recognize the important role of this kind of event management in organizational success.
Meetings and events come with inherent risks to budget, brand, and compliance. Strategic meetings management helps identify and address these risks proactively through careful planning and risk management best practices. By safeguarding the organization from potential issues, this type of event management proves its value in protecting the bottom line and brand reputation.
Strategic meetings management elevates brand perception by crafting meaningful meeting experiences that leave a lasting impression. When done strategically, meetings and events can be a powerful tool for educating attendees, building brand loyalty, and generating buzz. Strategic meetings management professionals are experts in creating impactful events that advance brand objectives.
To earn a seat at the omnichannel table, professionals must demonstrate a clear understanding of how their role benefits the organization. By reducing costs, uncovering data-driven insights, mitigating risks, and elevating the brand, strategic meetings management shows its strategic value and earns its place as a key driver of business success. With a seat at the table, event planners gain influence over meeting strategy and resources to deliver even greater impact.
Take Strategic Meetings Management To The Next Level
In a world with more ways to connect than ever before, strategic meetings management has become essential to success. As an event planner, you need to ensure your events are integrated into the overall customer experience across channels.
Getting a seat at the omnichannel table means proving your value to key stakeholders, investing in data and insights to strengthen your business case, and aligning your events strategy with broader organizational goals.
When you make events a key part of the omnichannel journey, you open new opportunities for growth, innovation and impact. The age of strategic meetings management is here – are you ready to take your place at the table?