I'm going to start by stating the obvious: The way businesses operate has changed since the pandemic. Crazy right? Not really - these changes were felt in all industries, all over the world. In our world, this fundamentally changed the core of how we met.
In the space of just over two years, we went from meeting in person, to meeting entirely remotely, to where we are now. Many, including myself, predicted that the hybrid meeting was here to stay for months if not years to come. Amid the tsunami of demand, we are seeing what may be most surprising: the sudden decrease in demand for virtual and hybrid meetings. The human need to connect – live and face to face – is so strong that 99%+ of the meetings we are supporting are in fact fully face to face. Given this reality and the unprecedented pace stressing the ecosystem of meetings & events, we need new strategies and a new approach.
This begs the question: how can you better manage your meetings in this post pandemic world to benefit your business? I sat down with two members of my dream team, Amy Harris, Global Director, Client Strategy and SMM (Strategic Meetings Management) Center of Excellence, and Ami Mayfield, Senior Director, Global Customer Management, to answer exactly this.
- Diligently focus on increased risk mitigation: From contract clauses to duty of care, the risk associated with executing meetings has increased. During the pandemic, suppliers changed their terms and conditions rapidly to protect themselves. For example, we saw cancelation windows of 6 months cut to just 30 days. Ami Mayfield pointed out that our clients are refining their strategy, to protect themselves from the financial and duty of care risk related to the pandemic.
Mitigating risk is still a critical component of a best-in-class strategy. Managing your meetings strategically will enable you to better protect your meetings program, and your business from the economic, duty of care, and financial risks that exist today.
- Turbo charge your negotiating power: “Post pandemic, corporations are seeing increased value of strategically managing their meetings.” said Amy Harris. In fact, meetings have moved from a nice to have to a strategic asset. Today our clients ask about avoiding cancellations, cutting costs, and finding mutually beneficial terms and conditions. A way to achieve this is by bringing all your meetings to the negotiating table with suppliers.
Single events give you very little wiggle room in terms of buying power. However, if you can determine your full book of meetings and events needs and bring this to the table, you will have much more negotiating power to create a relationship that is mutually beneficial.
- Include all meeting types in your strategy: Your meeting strategy should be designed to bring value to any type of meeting or event – from the smallest internal meeting to the largest incentive. Ensuring a companywide approach across all meetings optimizes both the opportunity and impact for your company.
“[This approach] brings consistency in brand. It brings consistency and experience in delivery. You gain visibility that gives you valuable data that you can take to suppliers and really talk through those supplier relationships,” said Amy Harris.
Driving an inclusive strategy extends well beyond the meetings department. More than 70% of professionals responsible for travel management now have some responsibility for meetings as well. This means that for many businesses, the return to meetings and the return to travel should be managed side by side rather than separately, to allow for greater alignment and benefits such as cost savings and traveler/attendee experience.
Welcome to Total Meetings Management
Focusing on these strategies will start your company on the path to what we call Total Meetings Management. This is an approach that means you align and manage all your meetings under one strategy to optimize cost reductions, buying power, risk mitigation, and to drive efficiencies. Through this approach, your stakeholders move from managed/engaged to true advocates supporting greater adoption and next level conversions truly optimizing your company’s investment in meetings & events.