Benchmarking the Journey to Strategic Meetings Management

January 11, 2018

As the ongoing quest for business efficiency continues, it becomes more important for larger organizations to chart their course to implementing a Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP).

The Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP) moniker was created by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). An SMMP is a disciplined approach to managing enterprise-wide meeting and event related processes, activities, metrics, standards and supplier strategies to achieve business objectives, quantitative cost savings, risk mitigation and optimal service levels.

SMMPs have been touted as the pinnacle of meeting program success for the past 20 years. However, they can be cumbersome for smaller organizations, as a fully fleshed-out program may contain more processes than can readily be followed given the resources at hand. 

American Express Global Business Travel recently released its 2018 Global Meetings & Events Forecast. Based on survey data from more than 500 companies, the SMM benchmarking report categorizes how companies are approaching their meeting management journey. The four categories correspond to steps along the journey to achieving an SMMP:


  • Individualized – Meetings are managed on an individual basis, with some basic policies and procedures in place.
  • Consolidated - Consolidated management of meeting sourcing, policies and approval system in place for meetings implementation and registration.
  • Strategic – Includes approvals and sourcing processes, along with a consolidated registration and tracking technology.
  • Optimized – All basics of SMM have been implemented, continuous adjustment and improvements in process with the goals of increasing efficiencies, cost savings, and compliance.


The first step is establishing a meetings strategy. This strategy should be designed to gain visibility into the key elements of meetings, including quantity, type, spend, revenue and region. Once the strategy has been determined, policies should be put in place to produce a functional program. The goal of policy is to incite behavior change. Explicitly defined guidelines – and communication – are critical to success.

Contract management is next. Centralized contracting and approval processes help mitigate risk. Attrition and cancelation penalties can result in massive amounts of lost budget dollars.

Centralized staffing and meetings management technology round out the areas needed for SMMP implementation. Technology is the area where the most challenges occur: according to the study, fewer than half of consolidated programs have meetings technology in place.

The report examines key indicators of program maturity, but ultimately determines that the key component of success is adoption. No matter how many policies and processes are in place, if nobody is following those procedures, the program is useless.

To help you benchmark your own company’s journey, American Express Meetings & Events has put together an online meetings management program assessment tool. By answering a few simple questions, you will be able to generate a report that will provide some of the basic steps you can take to help achieve your meetings management goals. 

To get a full copy of the 2018 Global Meetings & Events Forecast, go here.

To evaluate your own meetings management program, go here.

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