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​The Big Event - 9 routes to a killer SMM program

August 24, 2018


By Kari Wendel
VP Global SMM Strategy & Solutions, CWT Meetings and Events

Experience Economy: Strategic management saves money and improves attendee satisfaction

According to our latest figures, 54% of companies have benefited from Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) for several years now. But apart from being an acronym, you don’t want to get wrong -  what is it exactly?

A management model that began in the mid-90s, SMM combines strategy, operations, and business intelligence to enable clients to manage their meetings and events program across their enterprise, resulting in a consistent attendee experience, measurable business objectives and consistent savings.

In fact, quantitative savings can range between 10 and 25% off the original spend before setting up the program.

And savings aren’t the only perk. An SMM program increases spend transparency, boosts negotiating power, helps you to mitigate risks and improve regulatory compliance.

There are a number of factors that influence the development of an SMM program. Internal factors, such as company goals, configuration and culture, play a crucial role in the structure of an SMM program, as do external factors, such as industry trends and geography of the company’s stakeholders and meetings.

What has resulted is a continuum of programs that range from fully mature global models to hybrid programs that encompass a few key components. Many companies perceive the lack of a unique model or standard as making the SMM model complex. In fact, the opposite is true. That there are so many potential configurations underscores the flexibility of SMM programs. Putting a program in place does not have to be an onerous or daunting task. Many of today’s most effective programs started small and grew, building on their successes.

If you have not joined the SMM legion yet, here are some tips that will allow you to create a killer program and benefit from its many perks:

  1. Focus on strategy first and tactics second. A sound and customized strategy is critical to achieving sustained success with SMM. The tactics of how to source, what services to outsource versus insource, who to partner with, how to process payments, technology choices, and policy issuance all need to stem from the central strategy.
  2. Don't wait for perfect data or complete alignment. Start small, show value and grow from there. Many companies choose to start with big impact areas such as centralized venue sourcing.
  3. Stakeholders, stakeholders, stakeholders. Identify them early, get their buy-in and consider creating an internal committee with representatives from all impacted areas and regional road shows.
  4. Communicate your plan early to internal parties such as business owners and meeting planners, as well as external parties like hotel partners and technology providers. These are the people who will support your program. They must fully understand your roadmap and goals.
  5. Consider outsourcing components of your program to accelerate development and leverage external expertise. Professional meeting management companies can be a great consulting resource to get your program started.
  6. Don’t forget the small meetings. They represent 70 to 80% of all meeting expenditure, making them an important element of any program.

And if you have already started a program and are looking to expand it regionally or globally:

  1. Customize goals by region.
  2. Don't be intimidated by the concept of going global; programs don’t have to be fully mature in all regions to show value.
  3. Consider pilot programs versus a full rollout to gain "mini-successes" and manage stakeholder expectations.

Get in touch with us if you want to learn more about SMM


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