Start Your SMM program. Where to Go First. 

If I’m a Travel Manager or Event Organizer, how do I start a strategic sourcing program to help me leverage my spend for hotels?  You might be wondering, how can I take my small team of executive admins who plan our meetings to the next level of meetings management with the help of technology and some good policies?  We in the industry refer to these requirements as a lighter version of a Strategic Meetings Management program, or “SMM LITE”.

Here are some easy ways to get started:

1) Define Roles & Partners within Your Organization

Start with your core team of staff who plan meetings. Check with your Procurement team as another player to add to the roster. Look to identify other stakeholders who plan meetings within your organization. After you get a solid list, then you can work towards building a policy that lets everyone know that you are working to leverage the spend that each of these constituents consume within their meetings budgets. You can start by adding the meetings policy language within your travel policy and then work up from there over time to establish a broader meetings & events policy. Think of it as a crawl, walk, run approach.

2) Make your policy wish list

State your goals for the Meetings Policy. Establish what topics you want to cover in your policy document. These topics may include:

  • Strategy
  • Communication
  • Preferred Vendor Utilization
  • Meeting/Event Service Request – to help you know when people are requesting support
  • Group Hotel Sourcing Process
  • Payment Process

Once you have the core elements above, you move into the following points down the road:

  • Data Analysis and Reporting
  • ROI
  • Continuous Improvement

3) Internal Spend Assessment to Calculate your total Spend

It’s easy to stop at the first number you find when determining your spending. But chances are, there is more to the story. If you already have a meetings & events calendar or database, query that for data as a first step. Next, ask the hotel vendors you’ve used in the last year to provide information from your invoices. Contact the travel department to collect charges on business travel spending. Examine the finance department’s T&E charges greater than $1,000 or $1,500. Chances are those receipts represent a simple meeting.

Now that you are armed with this information, consider how you can start to manage the process better. How can you get strategic about your spending?

4) Consider a vendor to help support you early on

A travel management company like mine manages all aspects of meetings and events on behalf of a company. We get preferred deals for your hotel spending and track those dollars in our system. We act as your buying agent to get better hotel rates and added-value amenities like waived resort fees, free parking and free Wi-Fi.

Take a look at this Meetings Maturity Model initially developed by the GBTA Meetings Committee. We’ve refined this a bit to align with some of the key focus areas that we help clients manage. We can help you advance your program into the operative category by managing the RFP process, your budget, registration, and creating a comprehensive meetings policy without a huge amount of work on the client side.

Strategic Sourcing program

5) Roll Out

Align your Meeting Policy rollout with a communications plan and a program sponsor. Your sponsor should start with a beta group of meeting planners and make them advocates of your new policy. Don’t forget to toot your own horn!  Make sure your co-workers know about - and use - your new Meeting Policy by using the company intranet and other internal PR resources to spread the word.

Travel Leaders Corporate has deep experience in strategic meetings management. Take a look at our Simple Meetings Primer for our tips on planning your next event.

Ready to speak with a corporate travel expert about how you can better manage your business meetings? Get in touch with us to schedule a free consultation that can help lower costs and improve employee productivity.