Gain More Business with SMM Services
By Debi Scholar President, The Scholar Consulting Group | August 28, 2011
FutureWatch 2011, the Meeting Professionals International's State of the Industry report, stated that Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) is the #1 trend in the meetings industry this year. And rightly so, as thousands of organizations have benefitted from creating a Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP). Initiating an SMMP enables an organization to save millions of dollars, comply with regulatory requirements, gain productivity through efficiency, and reduce contractual risks.
Hoteliers who support their clients' SMM initiatives win more group business and build stronger relationships, which may be the catalyst to be awarded preferred supplier status, the pedestal title that most hotels strive for. Not only do your SMM group clients want dates, rates, and space, but also data, service, and compliance. Organizations will move their meetings market share to your chains and properties as part of their SMM supply chain strategy if you offer these SMM services. Hotels that do not support their clients' SMMP may lose group business. Yet, many hoteliers do not know what SMM is or what is expected of them.
Defined, Strategic Meetings Management provides direction for organizations to guide the strategy, operations, and tactical activities of meetings and events in order to improve business processes, quality, and return on investment, and reduce costs, risks, and inefficiencies. Simply, SMM is to meetings what Disney is to theme parks. SMM leaders expect hotels to offer high quality, consistent, flawless meetings for all business units in a controlled, compliance-driven environment with personalized attention that appears seamless to attendees, driven by the undercurrent of data consolidation.
When a hotelier asks an SMM leader, "What can I do to help you improve your SMMP?" the top 25 answers provided by your clients might sound challenging-and yet positive responses will increase your chances of being selected as a preferred group hotel:
- Provide monthly or quarterly data and metrics for all of the organization's meetings/events across all of your chains, brands, properties, and management companies;
- Consider the organization's transient volume when quoting meeting prices; use transient rates for group business when applicable;
- Develop small-meetings packages that enable administrative assistants and other coordinators to book meetings with pre-determined prices and the organization's contract terms;
- Recognize that when you encourage meeting requesters to use your hotel website for booking meetings, it circumvents the organization's requirement to funnel all requests through the meeting management technology system which initiates the end-to-end meeting management process;
- Answer electronic RFPs (eRFPs) thoroughly and quickly;
- Recognize that procurement principles may not allow for telephone negotiations or communication of the final property chosen;
- Read and discuss the organization's meeting policy with your team so that everyone understands the organization's meeting policy compliance expectations;
- Notify meeting leaders when an unauthorized contract signer requests a meeting; direct all meeting requests through the organization's SMM process;
- Agree to negotiate and use the organization's master contract with scope of work documents that can be used across the hotel's corporate and franchised properties; in lieu of the master contract, agree to the consistent use of addendums;
- Provide a list of the negotiated savings values so that the sourcing professional may document all of the hard and soft savings, and cost avoidance;
- Allow a version of your crisis management plan to be shared with the meeting planners;
- Automate attendee management uploads and downloads into your hotel system to facilitate quick changes;
- Allow for the use of the organization's strategically selected audiovisual suppliers to provide services without surcharges;
- Provide for hybrid meetings (virtual meeting options that complement the face-to-face meetings);
- Notify the client of shared space opportunities so that the organization does not have two meetings in the same property over the same dates with duplicative resources;
- Recognize and help organizations reduce their budgets and understand that they may have thresholds on category spend that cannot be surpassed (e.g., 30% maximum meeting spend on food and beverage);
- Collaborate with clients on development of and agreement on key performance indicators and service level agreements;
- Communicate ALL hotel charges during contract negotiation so that meeting planners are aware of charges for extension cords, surge protectors, lecterns, etc.
- Provide detailed folios for all group spend;
- Award loyalty points to organizations so that the points can be tracked and managed by the organization, not the planner;
- Stop giving incentives to administrative assistants and other ad-hoc meeting planners when meeting planners cannot accept unethical gifts; understand and support corporate Standards of Business Conduct policies and work with your marketing organization to curb or eliminate direct to user incentive solicitations;
- Accept meeting cards/P-cards without added surcharges;
- Allow for flexibility throughout your chain as to where a penalty credit may be used;
- Help the organization to "connect the dots" when multiple meeting planners from the same organization book meetings with your chain or hotel but you recognize that they do not know each other; be the educator and champion for the organization's SMMP.
- Recognize that the organization owns and pays for the meetings, not the sourcing company; help your meeting sourcing and planning company partners get on board with your client's SMMP.
SMM leaders fall into the data analysis abyss when hoteliers cannot provide comprehensive metrics for all meetings across all chains, brands, and properties. SMM leaders want data-lots of it.