The Simple Meeting - what it is and what it isn

With all the talk circling the trade journals around meetings management, small meetings, and simple meetings – how do you know if a gathering should be classified as a meeting? A long-time business associate once told me that all business travel is for meetings, be it a face-to-face meeting with a client or prospect, an educational event to learn a new topic, or attending a trade show – these are all meetings. So how do you identify what is or is not a meeting? Is there a set rule, or a matrix? The short answer is that it varies by corporation, by vertical, and by region.

Why it’s important

It is important to understand what constitutes a simple meeting for several reasons. First, and this might seem illogical - if it is a meeting, it would potentially be treated differently than a general business trip. Most companies have strong guidelines and travel policies to help inform employees how to conduct business and how to use Travel and Expense (T&E) dollars for a general business trip, but many do not have a process or guideline on how to fund a meeting or event.

Second, if it is a meeting, consider whether you have the right people in place to ensure a proper outcome. Think about a general sales meeting. You wouldn’t want the head of procurement involved with planning this event, but in many cases, they are as it will incur significant costs. The event planner must answer several important questions: Who is the key stakeholder? What are the objectives of the meeting?, and Who is the audience? Who is responsible for event planning, and can they easily find assistance if they are unfamiliar with the subject area?

How to figure it out

Many of the highly regulated business segments have matrices in place to help determine how to best approach a meeting or event. They might focus on internal trainings, or client-facing marketing events but each type of event should have a definition, a list of possible attendee types and a suggested outcome to determine the ROI of the event. Designing a simple grid like the illustration below can make it easier:

Simple Meetings chart  

As a member of the Global Business Travel Association's Meetings Committee, our panel addresses emerging trends in meetings management and the best possible solutions for companies to gain visibility into their internal practices.  Once companies have this information, they can then put processes in place to help further define how the events will be conducted as well as understanding what the potential costs and risks might be as well.

For more tips on holding a successful meeting, check out our Simple Meetings Primer

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