Organizations may be thinking about switching meeting planning agencies or outsourcing their meeting planning department but are worried about the heavy lifting required to make that happen. At BCD M&E, our Performance Optimization team knows the task of onboarding new clients can be complex. It requires significant work on both the agency side and the customer side to ensure all questions are answered, all materials are approved, and staffing decisions are made, plus all the tiny details in between. It’s no wonder that customers are apprehensive. In fact, the #1 question they ask about implementation is how much of their time it will take.
But with the current state of the world the time to implement is right now. Here’s why.
Why Now is the Right Time for Implementation
With decreased volume and limited or no company travel, now is the time to grab the attention of your stakeholders. They have time to participate in focus groups and discuss what process improvements are important to them, and they are hungry for information about virtual and hybrid meetings.
Implementations can include a simple communication plan and strategy with customized complexity based on customer needs. You should educate your stakeholders on the incredible potential of virtual and hybrid programs and provide speaker tips and publications that give them the tools they need to be successful. Work with an agency that brings a team with the right know-how for your specific meeting needs and understands how to reposition a meetings program and strategize which meeting types should be virtual, hybrid or in-person in the future. Consulting with stakeholders during the implementation process allows you to collectively build the new program together, and that converts stakeholders into champions for change.
Improve Your Program’s Health
“That’s the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t work anymore (if it ever did). Times have changed, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in many customers’ strategic meetings management structures. It’s time to assess if your meeting program is healthy or needs a booster. To start, dust off your meetings policy. Do you have the right parameters established for capturing attendee whereabouts for duty of care? Does your company’s definition of a meeting still ring true? If you’re still defining a meeting as ten rooms or more on peak, consider changing it to include hybrid and virtual meetings.
It’s also the right time to right-size the team and make sure you have the right number of team members and the right mix of roles to support your business. If you’ve operated under the same hierarchy and structure with your provider agency for some time, this is a great opportunity to streamline and optimize how your team is organized. Many of our clients are taking this approach due to the demand for efficiency.
Another idea to consider is introducing a role to specialize in the needs of hybrid and virtual programs: a Virtual Technology Manager. We’ve introduced this role to our customers, and many accounts are augmenting their previous structures to include this role to ensure flawless management of virtual endeavors.
Minimal business interruption is always the key to a successful implementation. During an implementation, it's important for your incoming agency to work with the incumbent agency to make sure all the details are transitioned, and any outstanding tasks are completed. Doing this with a proven process that includes a customized project plan that ensures stakeholders are informed and comfortable with the change will make the transition smoother.
We would be remiss if we didn’t also note that current low meeting volume certainly makes this process easier. On recent implementations we are finding we are transitioning 50 open programs as opposed to 250. The low meeting volume makes this a good time to change agencies or start outsourcing the meeting planning services that may currently be fulfilled in-house.
After an extremely complex implementation, a customer told us this was the only time they could have done a change like this. They lifted the meeting planning services from one supplier to BCD Meetings & Events, and we were able to transition seamlessly without service interruption. If you’re thinking of making a change because you are dissatisfied with your current agency, are worried about their financial stability, or don’t feel your current supplier has the strategic or global reach you need for your future growth plans, there has never been a better time to make the change.