The corporate meetings and events industry is conservatively valued at USD123 billion in Asia Pacific, and is expected to grow between 6 – 8 per cent year on year. Up until now, most companies viewed meetings spend as fragmented and too challenging to monitor and measure, let alone capture information that would enable informed decisions.
However, this thinking is beginning to change thanks to a global surge in Strategic Meetings Management pro- grammes. These programmes are having a dramatic impact on how customers look at their total meeting spend in Asia Pacific and it’s a strategy that is championed by procurement leaders, travel managers and CFOs, who see the need to get a handle on this spend.
Strategic Meetings Management or “SMMP” is defined as a disciplined and holistic approach to managing meeting and event related processes across the entire organization. At its heart is meetings technology, which captures and delivers detailed information previously accessible only through mountains of paperwork and deciphering expense claims and credit card statements.
SMM eliminates risk by ensuring meetings are managed in a compliant and legal framework, using pre-approved contractual terms to take the guesswork out of supplier contract negotiation.
It enables organisations to leverage their total meeting spend with suppliers by showing them how to maximise the company’s buying power. All too often we see departments buying from the same suppliers, but because they are doing so in silos, they are not taking true advantage of the opportunity to buy better and smarter.
Consolidation of total meeting spend is not only good news for the company, but also for the suppliers, especially hotels who ultimately gain a large chunk of the meeting and event pie. The opportunity for hotel chains to deliver better value based on real and accurate information, underpinned by a defined policy, becomes easier to fulfil and adds to the overall value relationship between hotels, agencies and customers.
Finally, and, most importantly, let’s not forget one critical point. Despite being a process that speaks to a more structured approached, SMM is a framework that supports a strategy. It does not in any way detract from what is ultimately important to a meeting owner and stakeholder – a deliciously designed, creatively considered and exquisitely executed event experience – the ultimate measure of a successful meeting programme.
Lisa Hopkins is managing director of BCD M&I Asia Pacific