We spoke last week about Strategic Meetings Management Programs and why they might be making your life as an event professional harder. Well now that we’ve revealed the complications SMMPs pose, let’s take a moment to establish a game plan for working with organizations using SMMPs. How can you get over the SMMP hurdle and still contribute to a successful, exciting corporate event?
Selling to an organization with an SMMP in place is a different path than the one normally taken. You have to realize there are several layers of decision makers before you “get” to the planner booking the meeting. You may encounter the person managing the SMMP, any number of contract people, third parties (if involved), internal stakeholders, procurement approvers, and more! You need information to determine whether it is worth your while to pursue the account from a volume perspective (in other words, is there enough volume to justify accommodating the extra requirements?).
- Is the SMMP mandated or optional? Does it apply to decentralized planners or just centralized ones?
- How do they handle Out of Channel Bookers?
- Is there a Preferred Hotel Program Component?
Your Steps Moving Forward
- It’s all about asking the right questions of the right people: Begin by asking yourself if your organization is prepared to work within the rules of the client’s SMMP.
- Reporting and Data: One of the most important things that hotels can do to help support clients’ SMMPs is to provide information. You should be able to run reports on the total number of meetings booked, who contracted the meetings, how many room nights were consumed, room revenue generated, food and beverage totals, etc.
- Be prepared and voice your willingness to carry out extensive negotiation to ensure you maximize cost avoidance opportunities and cost saving initiatives on behalf of your client.
- Focus on the overall objectives of your client, whether or not it is at an individual event level or from the perspective of a series of meetings. Share the benefits of your experience with your clients to ensure they use their event budget in a manner which will get them a maximum return on their investment.
- Be proactive in helping an SMMP client drive cost savings by ensuring that your staff is trained in procurement initiatives and fully understand how they can add value to every opportunity you receive.
- Hone your negotiation skills, which are an important part of you and your staff’s role – they should form a key part of your training practices and feature prominently in communication with SMMP clients. In other words have a good understanding of what they will and will not negotiate on. Any changes to this can cause extensive and frustrating delays and begins to combat the basic idea of the SMMP process for some organizations and can endanger your relationship.
If you ask the hard questons up front, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle! With more than half of all corporate groups implementing some form of SMMP regulation, it’s increasingly important to take the time and understand them now rather than risk being left in the dust by competitors that already do!