Companies are motivated to start managing meetings for a variety of reasons, including controlling spend, mitigating the risks associated with meetings (such as the safety and security of meeting attendees and preventing intellectual property theft), and ensuring a standard level of service quality for meeting owners and their attendees.
To deliver on these goals, companies typically implement three fundamental components of a MM program , including:
- A meetings policy or guidance;
- A technology platform to register events, source venues, maintain budgets, and report on supplier usage and compliance to the program; and
- A set of standardized strategic sourcing and meeting-planning processes to ensure event quality and participant satisfaction.
These three components funnel demand through the technology platform, enforcing the standardized sourcing and planning processes to ensure compliance with the meetings policy.
Enterprise-level MM programs have historically focused on savings and compliance – excluding event quality and participant engagement as primary goals – resulting in a split in how these aspects of meetings and events are managed. Procurement departments have typically focused on savings and compliance, and meeting and event stakeholders – often marketers – have typically focused primarily on event quality to deepen client relationships and brand loyalty, and generate sales.
Procurement-driven MM programs have delivered savings and compliance successfully through competitive bidding, service-level agreements, preferred supplier programs, and standardized processes and procedures. Marketers, on the other hand, have resisted having their live events rolled into MM programs, eschewing procurement methods and instead focusing on applying well-known and constantly evolving marketing methods to convert participants at live events into customers and drive loyalty.
Assisting clients in the design and implementation of their MM programs over the years, we have seen how different stakeholder goals don’t necessary align with the overall corporate goals, which can lead to serious enough resistance to change that the program partially or completely fails. The following chart illustrates some of the different goals of the various stakeholders.
Ultimately, the character and goals of the MM program depend largely on those responsible for the program’s design and implementation, and to what extent they involve other stakeholders in the design efforts. However, in our experience, in far too many cases the program designs have been driven by one group to the exclusion of others, leading to programs that do not meet all stakeholder needs. This is the primary reason for resistance to the implementation of MM programs by marketing departments, for example. Interestingly, this is also one of the main reasons MM opportunities are missed for other departments, like onboarding programs managed by human relations and educational programs managed by learning and development.