5 Ways New SMM Technology Simplifies and Improves Meeting Planning

Patty Meister |


Does it feel like you’re on meetings management hamster wheel with no end in sight?

Every day, there are meeting owner changes, budget forecasting, reports to procurement and finance, and so much more. 

Sure, your team works hard to control spend. But who has time to quantify and report on that value when you’re managing mountains of logistics, trying to plan more meetings for more attendees with more engaging experiences?

With hotel costs rising and planning teams stretched thin, many organizations are turning to Strategic Meetings Management. SMM centralizes meetings data, so you get the business intelligence you need to boost planning efficiency, optimize spend and improve meetings quality.

“Organizations typically see savings of 10% – 25% from a robust SMM program supported by state-of-the-art technology,” says Dianna Holt, a senior product manager who develops SMM solutions at Aventri. “Savings come mainly through standardized procurement procedures and use of preferred suppliers. Organizations reduce costs and negotiation time through bulk buying with the same vendor.”

SMM Simplified

If your organization is considering SMM, you should know that sophisticated, new platforms make implementing SMM much easier. Occasional planners and pros can master the technology quickly with minimal training required. 

Using modern SMM solutions, planning teams spend less time on tedious, manual tasks and more time focusing on the things that matter most. For example: keeping events on budget, negotiating the best value, deepening partner relationships, and bringing the meeting owner’s vision to life.

In short, SMM provides the tools you need to elevate your role as a Meetings Strategist. Here’s how the latest solutions simplify and improve planning:

Ratchet Up Visibility

How do you manage what you can’t even see? The answer: You don’t.

That’s why transparency is key. Using new-generation SMM solutions, you gain instant visibility into meeting activity enterprise-wide, at every stage of the buying process.

There’s no more updating spreadsheets, or toggling between platforms, or waiting for uploads and downloads. You manage costs and suppliers easily from a single platform.

A simple online Meeting Request  form gets the process started. It centralizes meeting requests across the organization. Flexible Approval Workflows add to the efficiency. Tailor the process to support your meetings policy and keep everything automatically in sync.

3 Planner Outcomes: With full transparency and customizable workflows, you can:

  • Better manage planning workloads
  • Automate stakeholder approvals to keep planning on schedule
  • Manage more strategically. For example, combine similar meetings or leverage the same venue for multiple meetings to control spend.

Drive More Savings

Did you know 80% of the potential savings on meetings and events is tied directly to the sourcing process1? That’s why automating venue sourcing is vital to delivering a solid return on investment.

The trouble is, traditional RFP tools fall short. They help you source venues and send requests and then quit. These solutions leave planners buried under a heap of spreadsheets – going back and forth with hotels, compiling bids, getting meeting owner changes – and starting the process over again. Ask yourself: Do these tasks add to the bottom-line value your team delivers? Most likely, they don’t.

Fortunately, next-level Strategic Sourcing Technology does more. You get powerful tools not just for sourcing, but for negotiating, communicating and reporting as well. So toss the sticky notes and back-and-forth emails with hotels. Strategic Sourcing captures all negotiation details in real time. You optimize buying power with visibility into sourcing activity start to finish.

What else can you do with Strategic Sourcing? Lock concessions and contract clauses into every RFP to increase value and avoid staggering attrition and cancellation fees. For added efficiency, these solutions quantify concessions and aggregate hotel bids into a summary for easy comparisons. Oh and the technology comes with service teams that do a lot of the legwork for you, like ensuring timely responses. 

3 Planner Outcomes: With Strategic Sourcing Technology, you:

  • Cut sourcing time in half
  • Increase negotiated savings
  • Drive sound decision-making

Gain Duty of Care Visibility

Unfortunately, we live in an uncertain world. With acts of terrorism and weather emergencies on the rise, being able to locate your people fast is critical.

“Duty of care is a requirement not only for employees, but for attendees as well,” Holt explains. “Directors of meetings need quick access to information, so they can help their organization locate attendees at risk and curtail travel to areas where there’s a known threat.”

The good news is advanced Enterprise Calendars provide duty of care visibility throughout the planning process. Get the full picture at a glance and then drill down for details. In a crisis, you can quickly provide a list of attendees in affected areas, so the travel manager can activate an emergency plan.

But don’t think a central meetings and events calendar is for emergencies only. This tool simplifies everyday planning, too. Why chance planning a new product launch when your CEO is at a board retreat? Or booking the national sales conference in conflict with other major events?

3 Planner Outcomes: With an Enterprise Calendar, you can:

  • Help ensure attendees’ safety
  • Avoid scheduling conflicts
  • Arrange company events at optimal times

Control Budgets

Meeting professionals today are feeling the crunch of a lack of resources — money, staff, time or all these2. So, it’s no surprise managing event budgets ranks among the Top 3 most in-demand skills for event professionals3.

“You’re a huge asset to your organization if you can contain or reduce costs, while delivering high value,” Holt points out. “Attendees enjoy all the benefits of inspiring meetings and events. And management provides rich content for less than they expected thanks to your budgeting acumen.”

To put you in the driver’s seat, modern Budgeting solutions consolidate financial information across your organization’s entire M&E portfolio. You gain real-time insights into categories of spend, cost allocation and ownership throughout the planning cycle. Proactively check budgets versus actuals and forecasts. And see how performance stacks up against goals.

3 Planner Outcomes: No matter what your budgeting skill level, these flexible solutions make it easy to:

  • Control budgets for events of all types and sizes
  • Make smart decisions to keep your program on track
  • Deliver solid returns on meetings and events

Create Reports in Mere Minutes

You can’t manage what you can’t measure, right? In other words, your budgeting success will never get noticed without an efficient way to report savings on meetings and events.

Performance analysis is required for 76% of new positions for planners today4. As Holt explains, “Companies want meeting leaders who can analyze data and make strategic decisions to enhance the value of events in real time and in the future.”

Using new-generation SMM technology, you can create comprehensive Reports in a couple of keystrokes. Get the details on total spend and savings – by meeting, vendor, brand and department – to drive sound decisions. Then customize info to stakeholders and share reports onscreen or exported in the format of your choice. You’ll provide all the answers before your CFO even asks.

3 Planner Outcomes: Fully integrated SMM technology makes Reporting a breeze, so you …

  • Showcase the value your team brings to the table
  • Keep stakeholders in the loop
  • Justify your organization’s meetings investment

Closing Thoughts

This is just the tip of the iceberg; new-generation SMM technology does much more.

But the bottom line is this: Implementing SMM has never been easier. The latest solutions lift you out from under the pile of day-to-day details. So. you uncover cost savings and efficiencies you’d otherwise miss. Using new, planner friendly SMM technology, you’ll:

  • Save time and money
  • Standardize planning to improve event quality
  • Elevate your role as a Meetings Strategist

Source Notes

  • 1 -Data from GBTA
  • 2- 28th Annual Meetings Market Survey, PCMA Convene Magazine, March 1, 2019
  • 3 & 4 - Transforming Your Career from Event Planner to Event Strategist, Event Manager Blog and Evenium, May 29, 2019

Gain Control of Unmanaged Meetings Spend_Aventri ebook

This Post was Written by Patty Meister

Patty is the Senior Hospitality Marketing Manager at Aventri. Her focus is on developing the go to market strategy for Aventri venue sourcing solutions. Additionally, she manages the marketing efforts for the company's partner channel. Patty has...

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