13 Oct Off
Chairman, Pacific World
The Limits of Strategic Meetings Management
SMMP Is a Long-Term Goal
I started to hear about enterprise-wide meeting solutions in 2000 as many Internet startup companies were proposing online event registration, electronic hotel RFPs, and meeting data consolidation. This was really about North America (40 percent of the total business events industry in spend), and so not much about the other regions like Europe or Asia Pacific.
Since then, has imposed itself as the top agenda item for corporations and large associations in the management of their meetings and events, and all industry players are investing effort and money to be part of it. For example:
• International corporations and associations have a long-term agenda to develop their SMMPs initially in the U.S., then to Europe, then to the other regions over the years
• Hotel chains adapt their sales strategies to work with online RFPs
• IT players have SMM offerings getting more and more specialized
• Travel management companies have grown global capabilities over the past 10 years
• Incentive and event companies have launched SMM divisions for a holistic offering to their clients
The Realities of SMM
But we need to be realistic about the limits of SMMPs; in particular, there are limits to standardization outside the U.S.
SMM is about efficiency and economies of scale from standardization, which is perfect for the U.S. market, but quickly becomes a challenge in regions with different languages, hotel pricing practices, cultures, VAT rules, and other differences.
The answer to building SMM programs in multi-country regions is to create a regional hub and then limit the scope of the program to sourcing hotels and to certain meeting types. SMM programs managed locally in country as opposed to hubs require in-country capabilities which is a challenge in smaller countries or countries less open to international trade.
Another Limit to SMM
Strategic meetings management generally does not target events: Events represent 50 percent of spend, with high strategic impact. Whether we talk about incentives, conferences, or external events, they are by definition unique in their design and therefore they are difficult to channel through standard processes such as are offered by SMMPs.
For some international players, their first priority is their global event solution, rather than pursuing SMM implementation.