You have a travel policy, but you likely don’t have a meeting policy. The unprecedented number of recent meeting cancelations and postponements as a result of COVID-19 emphasizes the need to have visibility into all meetings on an enterprise-wide basis. Yet, according to the 2018 GBTA Omnibus survey, 49% of GBTA members don’t have a meetings management program in place.
A meeting policy is the foundation of a managed meetings program, just as a travel policy is the basis for a managed travel program. Best-in-class meetings management programs reflect business travel programs in that they provide needed guidance, require the use of online technology for registration and managing participants, have approvals prerequisites, and use reconciliation procedures. Companies with meetings management programs in place were able to provide quick and accurate reporting to business owners and senior leadership, resulting in timely and sound business decisions.
As the industry recovers, getting meetings approval will be more important than ever. Build automated approvals into a centralized process that doesn’t impede the sourcing progress. Our recommended meeting policy concepts are as follows:
- Don’t over-complicate the policy, be as simple as possible.
- Define “meeting” for your company. 10/10/10 may be outdated. Don’t limit self-service capabilities to less than ten rooms, or ten attendees or $10,000 budget.
- Create meeting tiers/types with complementary workflows. Some might use different technology tools, be self-service, or full service.
- Include user-friendly tools and processes that make life easier for occasional planners.
- Identify who is responsible for contract review, negotiation, signature, and management
- As the industry recovers, getting meetings approval will be more important than ever. Build automated approvals into a centralized process that doesn’t impede the sourcing progress.
- Most companies have a procurement policy that has a three-bid minimum policy. Include the three-bid minimum in your meeting policy. Positive results can be immediate: “Instead of going to our usual hotel, we asked for three bids, and we saved $5,000 on a $25,000 meeting just by competitively shopping it.”
- Create a mandatory hotel addendum or simple meeting contract with pre-determined business terms.
- Define invoice reconciliation and budget to actual data entry requirements.
- Consider deploying a meetings card for payment of smaller meetings. Include in the policy if this is the preferred payment method.
Tips for Policy Adoption:
- Integrate the meetings portal with travel portal via SSO to gain company-wide adoption.
- Create a communication plan and include gamification, educational sessions, and leadership endorsements to gain interest in the new policy method.
- Make your champions and admins advocates by sharing their feedback.
- Share the success of the program: savings, cost avoidance, visibility to volume, top suppliers.
Ultimately, finding a venue for a meeting should be seamless and user-friendly. With the right policies in place, you can put your feelers out, continue working until someone responds, and you can go from there, without hours and hours of phone calls, and the follow-ups are great.
These are unprecedented times, and we can expect some sea-change impacts on business, behaviors, and expectations. Everyone will be required to respond and modify their business models for the new post-crisis ecosystem. How we plan, how we communicate and collaborate, and how we interact is all going to change. That being said, those who are quick to adjust will lead the way for the industry to follow. While so many may be taking things day-by-day, it’s critical to look to the future to determine the best course of action moving forward.
It’s important to recognize those trends which have been accelerated by the pandemic in your planning for the next year. Download our complimentary eBook titled, 6 Meetings Trends Accelerated By the Pandemic, to help you prepare for today and get ready for the future of meeting and event management.
Now more than ever, corporations are looking for easier, more efficient, and cost-effective meetings management strategies to navigate through this period of uncertainty and into the future.
To learn more about the new normal and how to prepare for the changes in travel, meetings, and events worldwide, download the complimentary titled, Prepare for a Changed World, which delivers timely peer to peer advice from leading travel managers, meeting planners, procurement, TMCs, and industry partners.
To learn more about how Groupize helps organizations simplify meeting management, please visit www.groupize.com or call +1-508-232-7719.