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Meeting notes for today's meeting planner

BREAKOUT SESSION: Meetings and Going Green-can the two mix?

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR for short) is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model.  Introduced into the corporate lexicon in the 1970’s, the inclusion of public interest into corporate decision-making via CSR is now quite commonplace.

So, how do meeting planners fit into the world of CSR? Short answer-by going GREEN!  Corporate meetings, by virtue of their inherent environmental footprint, represent a unique opportunity for meeting planners to contribute to their organizations’ CSR strategies.  Unlike transient corporate travel, the finite nature of meetings provides planners with specific and controllable components.  A few examples of these components are meeting location, hotel facility management, food and beverage management, marketing materials, and basic communication guidelines.  Managing these components in green fashion will typically align meetings with organizations’ CSR initiatives.

For a great example in green meetings, take a look at how McDonalds committed to making their 2008 Worldwide Convention green.

For more answers on how to take your meetings green, visit us online or contact us.

BREAKOUT SESSION: Managing Stakeholders’ Objectives & Why It’s Important

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In the midst of all of the planning you have done for your upcoming meeting, have you kept your stakeholders’ objectives in mind?  While planners are generally aware of the logistical objectives of their meeting, somewhere in between the RFP’s, the BEO’s, and the DMC’s, the high-level strategic and organizational objectives are,  more often than not, only reviewed when it’s time to execute the meeting.  Most planners know the feeling…. it’s one week before your event and the executive sponsor of your meeting reviews the agenda and decides that’s not the message he or she was trying to convey.  Thus, agenda re-organization begins!

It’s a bit of a loaded question, but – why the big fuss about aligning stakeholders’ objectives?  Previous example aside, consider the following groups of stakeholders typically associated with a meeting and what their objectives could be:

Senior Executives – Typically the sponsors of your meeting; your objectives will need to roll up into their vision

Procurement – Based on your process, typically the department that adds credibility

Travel – Collaboration always provides optimal results

Legal/Regulatory – Will your meeting have any legal ramifications for your organization?

Finance – Compliance with your organizations data collection and payment processes for your meeting

This is just a small cross-section of stakeholders, but conducting a stakeholder analysis at the outset of the planning process will help you identify the parties likely to influence / be influenced by your meeting.  Take one step further and arrange a meeting with those stakeholders–either all together or in smaller groups–and allow them to reveal their objectives for your meeting.  You’ll be surprised at how much smoother the planning process will be once the stakeholders’ objectives are aligned with your meeting.

For more information how to begin this process feel free to visit our website or contact us.

BREAKOUT SESSION: SMMP – Why It’s Important …The List

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Strategic Meetings Management Program or SMMP…..the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) defines SMMP 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 organization’s strategic goals and vision, and deliver value in the form of quantitative savings, risk mitigation and service quality.  It is a mufti-year corporate strategy customized to the corporate culture that is often led by a meeting, travel or procurement leader, or a meetings council made up of the key stakeholders.”

As accurate as that definition of SMMP might be, we’d like to define the importance of SMMP by outlining what it means for you.  And since its still the beginning of they year, what better than a list to demonstrate its importance?

1.     Greater understanding of your meetings data including costs, volume, attendance and ROI.

2.     Better business intelligence through easy and consistent analysis of meetings data.

3.     Reduced duplication of effort and improved meetings consistency/quality through consolidating meeting management to meeting planning teams or outsourced vendors.

4.     Cost savings through standardized procurement procedures.

5.     Costs savings through the establishment of preferred vendors, standardized contracts, reduced negotiation time, and increased vendor concessions from the leveraged buying power from focusing the meeting spend.

6.     Risk avoidance through meeting centralization of contracts focusing contract reviews and signing to contract experts.

7.     Reduced regulatory risks and improved legal compliance to regulations such a Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and the Healthcare Sunshine Act through policy guidelines and compliance tracking

8.     Increased efficiencies and productivity through standard operating procedures and technology automation.

9.     Greater meeting value and quality through ROI management and meeting consistency.

For more information or assistance deploying SMMP in your organization visit our website or  contact us.

GENERAL SESSION: Identifying Your Greatest Challenges As An In-House Meeting Planning Arranger – by Brenda Rivers

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At the recent Andavo Meetings and Incentives’ client Edu-Forum, held at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, a gathering of in-house meetings arrangers representing a wide span of industries shared their most pressing challenges for 2011. Within each challenge, lies great opportunity for those arrangers who are able to find appropriate solutions that create added value and help their organizations reach their business goals.

The winning opportunities ARE: (in ascending order)

10. How to have each meeting stakeholder clearly articulate their desired business outcome for a meeting.
Gaining buy-in and support from stakeholders is critical to the success of any meeting or event. Often, stakeholders are not fully engaged in the meeting design phase which can create a disconnect with the business purpose of the meeting and make it difficult to create metrics for success.

9.  How to develop a meeting theme to engage and re-energize employees to bring morale back after a period of grave economic stress and massive layoffs.
The days of the old “boondoggle” employee incentive are over and meeting arrangers must find ways to do much more than arrange golf and activities at a 5 star hotel. Employee engagement is the new incentive.

8.  How do in-house meeting arrangers know that they are doing the best at being innovative and creative?
Keeping ideas fresh and exciting within restrictive budgets and an ever present watchful eye from board members takes more than a quick Google search.

7.  How to find relevant data on past programs in order to demonstrate that more could be done in the future to create programs with greater purpose and measurable outcomes. Too often, the key in-house meeting arrangers have great ideas for improvement but lack sufficient data to create the business case for their executive sponsors. This raises the pressing need for training on the principles of a strategic meetings management program and policy guidelines.

6.  How to deal effectively with little or no lead time for meetings and events, to avoid extreme stress, lack of strategic planning, cost overruns and total burn out(!)
This is the age of last minute planning. Gone are the days when companies had the luxury of planning one to two years in advance. The consensus is that short term planning is the norm and the bar is raised to learn strategies which keep the process efficient, streamlined and under control.

5.  What are the most important ways to justify expenses to the financial stakeholders?
How can meeting arrangers measure tangible and intangible returns in order to show return on the investment on the meeting dollars spent? Financial accountability is at the top of the list when it comes to meeting the procurement stakeholders’ business outcomes.

4.  How do you create the business case to “pitch” to your boss, the need for a more strategic meetings policy?
And the pitch to outsource those elements of strategic design, planning and execution which are not within your organization’s core competencies?

3.  How is an effective crisis management policy built with risk management guidelines?
All planners are increasingly concerned with issues of safety, financial integrity and risk management. A new brand of due diligence must begin early in the design phase in order to create the safety net for intelligent crisis management.

2. How to keep programs upscale, innovative, motivating, inspiring and educational…..despite budget cuts?
That is the $64 million question. But, the winner is:

The #1 greatest challenge for meeting arrangers in 2011:


Our panel’s answer is: NO, there is no silver bullet BUT there are principles and methods which can be applied to help demonstrate the following:

  • Did the meeting result in the desired outcomes for all stakeholders?
  • To what degree and at what cost per attendee, was the percentage of financial and subjective return on the dollars invested?

Stay tuned for more AMI insights from our esteemed clients!

GENERAL SESSION: Vendors vs. Strategic Partners and Why the Difference Is Important

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The long (and sometimes slow) march towards Strategic Meetings Management in the meeting industry has been sermonized in almost every industry forum, white paper, case study and any other platform over the last decade.  And yet the message itself has NOT lost steam- in fact its more important than ever.

 The typical vendor-client relationship is designed to deliver service on a transactional if not case-by-case basis.  The results derived from this level of relationship are limited in value and impact to the organization.   On the other hand, strategic partnership is one that yields value as well as value creation beyond the stated goals of your organization.

 So ask yourself some of these questions and your answers might help you determine whether the suppliers you are working with are truly strategic partners or just vendors ….

  • Do your suppliers proactively work with you to identify your organizational stakeholders when planning a meeting?
  • Do your suppliers proactively work with you to align your stakeholders’ objectives?
  • Do your suppliers spend as much time with you on diligence as they do on logistics?
  • Do your suppliers behave only as your vendor or as an extension of your team?

 As you ponder the answers to these questions (!) take a look at a wonderful example from MeetingsNet of a company making the transition to strategic partnership based supplier relationships.

BREAKOUT SESSION: New Year’s Resolutions?

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Beneath the glitz and glamor (!) of being a professional meeting planner are some very real challenges with how you  manage your time, your relationships and dare we say your sanity!  The balance you maintain between these separate but important parts of your life is critical to keeping you healthy, engaged and productive as a meeting planner.

So take the time to review this year’s first “Top 10” resolutions list courtesy of renowned motivational expert Andy Core and hit the ground running in 2011!     2011 Meeting Planner Resolutions

For more on Andy Core, please visit his website