BARRIERS AND SOLUTIONS
Stakeholder interviews in the report show that users' interest, management support, and intercompany communications rank as
the number-one challenge in global SMM. Differences in culture and language, legal and regulatory issues, and technology adoption
tie for number two.
User buy-in Engaging the support of the appropriate individuals, particularly senior management with meetings responsibility, often poses
the most difficult barrier to overcome. Hurdling this critical barrier will determine the level of overall success of the
Cultural and language differences Consolidating and coordinating programs across multicultural groups presents unique challenges. Language differences, as well
as disparities from region to region in meetings practices and terminologies, pose clear obstacles to successful meetings
management. Effectively crossing boundaries of language, nationality, or geography requires a basic awareness of any unfamiliar
cultures that are likely to be encountered—before starting the process.
Legal and regulatory issues Another significant barrier to the successful implementation of a global SMM program centers upon corporate operational accountability
and regulations. Pharmaceutical regulations outside of the United States vary by country, says Advito's Odom. In Europe,
the regulations are especially stringent. As a result, some companies have experts within each country who must be contacted
by the meeting planner. This is particularly true when attendees come from several different countries and all regulations
have to be reviewed to ensure compliance with the strictest regulations.
Technology acceptance, adoption, availability Technology simultaneously represents one of the greatest challenges to and one of the highest potential gains in cost savings
and baseline success tracking. Most critical to success is the technology tool's data-capture component. Establishing a baseline
for the scope of the organization's global meetings spend and vendor usage is imperative to the determination of savings and
successes gained year over year.
Finances and funding In many global organizations, meetings costs and processes are not within the focus of finance and senior management. Gaining
the collective awareness of finance, procurement, and senior management requires extensive fact-finding and data collection
to present a preliminary meeting-cost overview.
CONVERGENCE OF MEETINGS AND PROCUREMENT
The rising need for cost containment in the meetings management arena is leading to more procurement department involvement
in the buying of meeting services and contract negotiations.
Procurement is always looking for additional areas where the organization may save money, and meeting spend is one of the
last areas of unmanaged spend within organizations. Shifting the negotiation and hotel-contract process to procurement often
begins data consolidation initiatives as well. Double-digit savings have been reported by organizations involving procurement
in meeting negotiations.
ROI FOR MEETINGS
Demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) for meetings is increasingly becoming the measure of meeting value. ROI is defined
as the measure or accountability that answers the question: Is there a financial return for investing in a meeting? The answer
involves capturing the fully loaded meeting costs, converting data into monetary values, and determining the outcome of the
meeting on the value.
"Our clients are looking to measure ROI against their overall investment in resources," says Mary MacGregor, vice president,
BCD Meetings & Incentives. "They are looking for a positive return based on measuring the savings in actual meeting spend
as well as negotiated savings with vendors. We have also been able to offer a solution that measures the ROE (return on the
event) their meetings. In these cases, we survey attendee attitudes and knowledge pre-and post-event to evaluate the impact
of the meeting on key business initiatives. Both measurements provide important data to support meeting and event programs."
A number of consistent trends and best practices are at the heart of successful meetings programs in Europe:
Create collaborative event groups or a global event council Develop a working community of individuals that is empowered to align processes and best practices across the organization.
Ensure that the global SMM program includes representation by meeting-coordination members from cross-functional and multicountry
Ensure group efforts involve overarching strategies of the organization Collective buy-in among the meetings professionals of the organization will better drive senior management buy-in of proposed
meetings policies and procedures. The involvement of the procurement and finance departments ensures visibility within the
organization for the cost effectiveness and savings of the centralized meetings management program.
Balance local success with global strategy Local meetings management ensures awareness of market idiosyncrasies by stakeholders from local MICE teams. It also increases
the buy-in with the global initiatives for capturing data in centralized spend categories. The contributions of all markets
are represented in the big picture.
Share information The speed of change in today's economy—and in the meetings industry itself—requires the effective sharing of organizational
information. Communication is key to the cohesive behavior of the meetings management teams.