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MPI Foundation completes Strategic Meetings Management Research

As part of its commitment to furthering the success of the meeting and event industry, the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Foundation has concluded its new research study on Strategic Meetings Management (SMM).

The goal of the research initiative was to gain a deeper understanding of SMM as a disciplined approach to managing enterprise-wide meeting and event activities, processes, suppliers and data. Specifically, the researchers evaluated how SMM has evolved as well as the implications and opportunities for future applications.

“SMM has been a hard concept to define. While there are many best practices, SMM varies from organization to organization,” said Cindy D’Aoust, chief operating officer for MPI. “With this research, we are looking to broaden the scope of SMM and position it as a framework for optimizing meetings across enterprises.”

The SMM concept was first introduced more than a decade ago as businesses strove to manage costs and mitigate risk. That need grew throughout the recent recession a few years ago. However, as SMM programs matured, businesses found that they also proved useful in designing events that meet organization-wide goals and for improving the delegate and stakeholder experience.

Following are highlights from the study published in the “Strategic Meetings Management (SMM): Taxonomy, Growth and Future” report:
• ROI is both financial and emotional. Successful SMM can engage attendees before, during and after the meeting is over.
• Measurements must not be based solely on ROI but on ROO as well--return on objectives--and ROO metrics needs to be developed for the industry.
• Stakeholder support from all levels of an organization is critical for SMM success.
• SMM is not “one size fits all.” It must be aligned to fit each company’s business goals, objectives and corporate culture.
• Creating and nurturing business partnerships is an increasingly important aspect to SMM in helping to reduce risk, garner better service and improve negotiating power.

The study was commissioned by the MPI Foundation and conducted by the International Center for Research Events, Tourism and Hospitality (ICRETH) at Leeds Metropolitan University. SMM subject experts from Your Corporate Source and Bondurant Consulting were collaborating partners.

Phase I of the research project involved collating and categorizing published SMM documents, surveys with meeting professionals, participation in educational sessions and interviews with subject matter experts between October 2012 and June 2013. Phase II will continue through next year and includes utilizing the findings to create professional development tools and make recommendations for the future. Tools include case studies, video guides, white papers and research reports for practitioners at all levels.

According to Dr. Eliza Hixson from ICRETH, who conducted several of the interviews from the study, “Many larger organisations within the U.S. are moving towards mature SMM Programs (SMMPs), and we can see benefits expanding from simply cost consolidation to one more focused on the participant experience. We are seeing recognition of the value SMM can bring to event activities and long-term business goals.”

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