Friday 9 February 2018

GUEST BLOG: How to Drive Meetings & Events Success

Companies today are focusing more heavily on managing their strategic meetings and events (M&E) programme via streamlined sourcing and strong policies to control spend. But a truly successful M&E programme needs to go beyond these basic foundations. Here are three top areas that must be fully realised to maximise the value delivered to your business:
Stakeholder Buy-In
Developing an M&E strategy requires buy-in and ongoing collaboration to drive the right outcomes. Start by identifying all of your stakeholders: budget owners, planners, clients, senior leadership. To drive buy-in, ensure your objectives align with your company culture and articulate the value of a managed M&E programme in a way that resonates – find the “what’s in it for me” factor for each audience.

To counter resistance, focus on both the potential benefits and risk avoidance of having a managed meetings programme, for example:
  • Regulatory: full compliance with regulatory requirements, e.g., Sunshine Act, Sarbanes Oxley Act, Organisational reputation: reduce exposure – manage contractual risks, insurance, document control/retention for audits,
  • Business operation: having the right resources, duty of care, branding, competitive analysis, client satisfaction, data security, e2e business processes,
  • Financial: maintain control, report savings, manage penalties, analysis to understand full insight into costs, negotiation power
  • Engage and communicate: Create a task force with representatives from each department/country, provide clear goals, and baseline and benchmark progress. The earlier you engage and the more visibility you provide, the more sustainable buy-in you’ll achieve.

Key Technology
It’s important to consider the role technology plays in a successful meetings & events programme. For example:
  • Attendee tools: With technology advancing and providers merging, you can now source multiple attendee applications from a single solution. Registration can be integrated with automated approval processes, and mobile meeting apps can incorporate survey tools to provide real-time feedback. Identify all of the technology touch points throughout your attendee process before selecting any given tool to get the most value from your investment.
  • Data: What data and analysis capability do you need to have a complete view of your M&E programme? Pre-meeting, you’ll collect registrant information, but what about their behaviour? How can you impact registrant behaviour at the point of sale? How are they using your technology? Do you have visibility into how you’re tracking against your budget? Do you have actionable insights pre/during/post event? Are you able to measure and report ROI? The right data and reporting tool will enable you to identify trends and opportunities for improvement.
  • Payment and Reconciliation: Who owns the payment and reconciliation process? Does it meet regulatory or compliance requirements? Emerging virtual card payment solutions can support the reconciliation process, improve efficiency, deliver a more auditable and compliant process, and feed into data tools to provide business intelligence.

Attendee Experience
Face to face meetings remain critical for organisations to drive their strategy forward and achieve their goals. Managing costs isn’t sufficient to generate a positive return on meetings investment: the attendee experience is critical to deliver on meeting objectives.
For example, if the objective of your meeting is to promote a new product, not only do you need the program content to be persuasive; you need attendees to have a positive end-to-end experience to ensure they’ll buy/sell/promote your product post-event. New tech-based attendee engagement solutions are gaining in their ability to deliver real-time, innovative, customized experiences. Combining seamless registration, booking, onsite and post-meeting engagement, will provide best-in-class attendee experiences.
In closing
Taking the core foundations of strategic meetings management and combining it with these critical elements of effective marketing and experience management, will help deliver Meetings & Events program success for your company.
This blog was posted by Henrietta Balint, Director of Global M&E Sales for Radius Travel, who is exhibiting at the Business TravelShow  this month.

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