• Do you need a champion to succeed at SMM?

    kari-wendelStrategic Meetings Management is not just a set of rules, but a holistic approach to managing your meetings. And we happen to have it down to a science. Over the past 10 years, CWT Meetings & Events has helped our clients save more than $730 million U.S., drive 90% compliance while achieving a 4.7 out of 5 in customer satisfaction. We have also supported more than 250,000 RFPs for more than 50,000 meetings.

    SMM is an investment in time, energy, and dollars, and you need to justify that investment. Kari Wendel is CWT Meetings & Events’ SMM guru (officially, Senior Director – Strategic Meetings Management). We chatted with Kari after a recent presentation about some of the frequently asked questions around SMM.

    Savvy: Do you need C-level buy-in or some level of champion to have a sustainable strategic meetings management program?

    Kari Wendel: No, you do not. The reality is that for one of the programs that we’ve done before, we progressed for three solid years to compliance of 75 percent with no executive support, no C-level buy-in whatsoever.

    Here’s why that happens. More than 80 percent of attempts at SMM either fail or stall. What’s missing is stakeholder engagement. Lack of good stakeholder engagement is what leads to those.

    In the case previously mentioned, we had great stakeholder engagement. We met with each individual person that we wanted to participate in the program and we got to know what was working in their world and what was painful, what they liked and didn’t like and we specifically solved all their problems.

    Savvy: Do you need a written, documented policy to have long-term success at SMM?

    Kari: No. The policy is really just a piece of paper. While eventually you probably should have one “because that’s how corporations work,” here’s why it’s not that important.

    No company that I know of is going to mandate usage of SMM. They’re not going to fire you if you don’t follow the policy to a T. Carrying a stick and threatening them with it is not actually a very good motivator. Whereas if you get that right kind of stakeholder engagement and you plan to process in a central set of services that really drive value to the end users, you don’t need a stick because they’ll want to play the game again.

    A really great program will drive compliance on its own merit rather than having a policy that tells people what to do.


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