GBTA study examines state of strategic meetings management programs in North America

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A new report issued today by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) evaluates the state of strategic meetings management (SMM) programs across North America. The report, The State of Strategic Meetings Management 2013, sponsored by CWT Meetings & Events, surveyed meeting professionals to evaluate the growing use of SMM programs and the benefits and challenges corporations are dealing with as they put these programs into place.

The study found that SMM programs are increasingly being used by corporations. Over half (52 per cent) of respondents work for companies with an SMM program in place or in development. Most of these respondents felt their company’s SMM programs have benefited their organizations, enabling them to:

  • Increase their control over cost savings (76%);
  • Streamline meetings and event processes (76%);
  • And help better allocate resources and savings (67%).

Of respondents without an SMM program, 41% believe a program will be implemented by their company within the next three years, underscoring the expansion of SMM programs in North America. However, despite the growing acceptance of SMM programs, only 37 per cent of respondents indicated that their programs were being used to manage events globally. This represents a potential area of opportunity for SMM, particularly for multinational organizations.

Executive buy-in is key

The study found that support for SMM from company executives is essential, with 58 per cent of respondents noting that without executive buy-in, SMM programs would not succeed. Three in five respondents (59 per cent) from companies currently operating without SMM programs said they would need initiatives led by senior leadership to establish them.

“Meetings professionals need to demonstrate the value of SMM programs to corporate leadership. Leaders who understand how SMM programs can help companies get the most out of their meetings and events budgets are more likely to champion and develop these programs,” said Joseph Bates, vice president of research at GBTA.

Meetings by the numbers

To help illustrate the benefits of SMM to corporate executives and improve meetings programs, meeting professionals are increasingly using data and analytics to manage meetings. Seventy percent of companies with an SMM program in place use technology to gather data in order to manage their programs, in some cases developing proprietary technology of their own. Top uses of data collection include:

  • Registering meetings (79%)
  • Registering attendees (75%)
  • Providing detailed reporting (72%)
  • Budgeting purposes (69%)
  • Sourcing venues (60%)

“Meetings require a large investment for many companies, which is why SMM programs have been deployed. Technology enables the capture of important data and analytics, but it’s up to the meetings professionals to make informed, actionable decisions based on the story that the data is telling, and to communicate the value of the overall program to the C-level to ensure support,” said Kari Wendel, SMMC, senior director, SMM Strategy + Solutions, CWT Meetings & Events.

GBTA surveyed 335 meetings professionals in the U.S. and Canada from March-April.

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