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By Kevin Iwamoto, SVP

Small meetings have become the hot button discussion in 2017 for companies seeking to further control and manage their meetings spend.  This makes sense, since larger meetings fall under a corporate strategic meetings management program (SMMP) umbrella, while small meetings require greater resources, budget or bandwidth than most SMMP category leaders have at their disposal. Many also presume that the spend thresholds are too low, and the subsequent risk associated with such a low volume of spend is not significant enough to oversee and manage.

Enter technology disrupters like Groupize and Bizly who have cornered this specific space and created self-servicing technology that doesn’t require complex oversight and billing from the traditional travel management company (TMC) and/or meetings management company (MMC) intermediaries.  Unsurprisingly, the result is a lot of discussion from almost all of our clients and others in the industry about whether or not the time to consider including small meetings spend into a corporate SMMP is now.

I recently wrote about this phenomena via my Industry Insights on-line blog in Meetings & Conventions magazine. From that post, here’s my top four points to consider if you are at this juncture of deciding whether to finally “own it or not:”

  1. The work flow for small/simple meetings is markedly different than a standard SMMP meeting that requires documented sourcing and specific process flows. In most cases, it is almost always done by administrative assistants and not meeting planners.

  2. The turnaround time to book the small/simple meeting is very tight, so asking the administrative assistant to add more time and steps to their work flow by processing it like they would a standard meeting almost always results in non-compliance. This explains why so little data is captured on small/simple meetings and why the non-compliance numbers are very high for this category.

  3. Consolidating meetings spend is a core value and benefit for SMMP, but most of the SMMPs I’ve assessed and reviewed don’t factor in small/simple meetings spend. Therefore, consolidating it with your SMMP is not going to produce the additional data that SMM program leaders desire. As stated in point number 2, the work flow to process and book small/simple meetings in most cases doesn’t involve a RFP. In fact, more small meetings are being done at restaurants and business centers like Convene, WeWork and others who provide corporate meeting rooms with full on-site AV support that you can rent by the hour or day and can include catering, deluxe break refreshments, snacks and other items at less cost than at a hotel venue.

  4. If you currently aren’t capturing and reporting small/simple meetings spend now, any capture and reporting of spend volume is better than none. The current crop of small/simple meetings technology disrupters has reporting capabilities that can be merged with SMM data, usually through a third-party intermediary/meeting management company or via independent data aggregation companies like Meeting Analytics, now ZS Associates.

If you feel like you need an independent assessment on whether to include small meetings into your current spend management responsibilities and savings targets, feel free to reach out to discuss further. We have helped many clients analyze and strategize on how to move forward (or not) with regards to small meetings spend and technology requirements and would be happy to do the same for your organization.


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