As our world continues to rapidly change, it's necessary for meeting programs to evolve to remain effective in creating meaningful impact. At BCD M&E, we've recently expanded our Meetings Maturity Model to adequately measure program evolution. In this article, we discuss the importance of evolving meetings management programs and the contributing factors we must stay privy to.
Why It's Crucial to Keep Up With the Evolution
Strategic meetings management programs are evolving faster than ever. Factors like an increased procurement focus on meeting spend, the rise in importance of the attendee experience, the need for demonstrating clear measurement on meeting success, risk and security concerns and the explosion of innovative technologies have all contributed to the ongoing evolution of how organizations are approaching their meetings management programs.
More recently, the meetings and events industry has been rocked by the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. The effect that this will have on meetings programs is still unfolding, but it is already clear that it will have a significant impact to the industry, both in the short and long term. Those with existing programs have been able to articulate the value through the ability to act quickly and provide meaningful and actionable data in real time. This will become a key focus for other organizations that were not able to respond as quickly or easily or could only tell a part of the story due to disparate meetings processes and systems of record.
As business needs adapt in our ever-changing world, it pays to continually be looking forward, ensuring a meetings program is positioned in a way that is can be adapted across an organization to maintain relevancy and deliver value to a variety of stakeholder groups.
How Meetings Management Programs are Evolving
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are learning how important it is to evolve our programs to be ready for the unexpected. With such a significant disruption to operations when it comes to meetings and events, the ability to press pause, reevaluate an organization's meetings program and adjust course will be critical to its long-term success. Some questions that you may ask include:
- How well did our organization and supplier react and what do we need to change with our program?
- How much did this cost us and what were we able to leverage strategic sourcing practices to minimize exposure?
- How will we adjust our meeting strategy and processes to ensure the safety of our attendees?
If no program is currently in place, now is the time to take initial steps to build some controls within your organization such as developing meeting guidelines, meeting registration guidance or establishing a consolidated venue sourcing program.
It is widely understood by companies that in order to further optimize their meetings management programs, expanding the program globally is expected and encouraged. However, the expectation that the same framework can be "lifted and shifted" across regions is often unrealistic. Some best practices in developing a global program include:
- Having one program owner globally, that is empowered to make decisions and can influence strategy and business planning.
- Ensuring that the program business case encompasses global, regional and local requirements.
- A technology strategy that is clearly communicated and takes into consideration regional application.
- Ensuring a well-established and connected governance structure being in place.
- An effective change management strategy to communicate, educate, encourage and change behaviors across stakeholders.
Duty of Care
Duty of care is the requirement for organizations to protect their employees and attendees at their meetings from risks such as injury, sickness, safety, health or travel. Duty of care as a critical component and driver of a meetings management program continues to grow in importance. Examples may include:
- Following the policies and protocols of the corporate security team – such as ensuring meeting location are approved and security reporting is provided in accordance to requirements
- Ensuring that the right information is being captured and access to data is easily accessible in response to any emergency – for example by utilizing a meetings management technology for attendee registration in order to quickly identify attendees affected by a situation
- Having established emergency plans and protocols with immediate communication channels in place
How to Measure Program Evolution
Based on the evolving nature of Meetings Management Programs, at the end of 2018 BCD M&E revamped our existing Maturity Model, expanding the previous version to now have twelve comprehensive dimensions against which an organization can measure program evolution. The model progresses from Unmanaged programs all the way to programs that are Leading - and this can be broken down against each program component.
Using the BCD M&E Meetings Maturity Model as a framework, results were collated from across our meetings management account base. Sign up to receive our white paper to view results and learn more.