by Loren G. Edelstein | August 01, 2013
Organizations of all sizes should have a written meetings and events policy, guiding the decisions made by the planning team, meeting sponsors and attendees. Following is sample wording for key policy components, as gleaned from a detailed template developed by Debi Scholar, CMM, CMP, in her former role as a corporate travel and strategic meetings management consultant; she is now director of managed meetings strategies for American Express Meetings and Events. For Scholar's comprehensive policy template, click here.

Statement of Purpose
The [Organization Name] Meetings and Events Program provides:

• High-quality services using flexible and creative solutions;

• Safety, security and visibility into meeting/event activities for crisis management purposes;

• Contractual and financial risk mitigation by leveraging our total buying power, and

• Consistent and efficient processes that align with [Organization's] values.

Meeting/Event Definition
The Meetings and Events Policy applies to all gatherings with one or more of the following characteristics:

• Requires a signed contract or purchase order;

• Is expected to cost $10,000 or more (including air travel, hotel, food and beverage, ground transportation, speaker, etc.), and

• Is an [Organization-funded] off-site gathering of 10 or more attendees (employees, consultants, clients).

Scope
The Policy must be adhered to by all employees of all business units, consultants, contractors and suppliers who are traveling on behalf of, and funded by, the organization. The Policy applies globally; if exceptions are granted, all exceptions will be documented.

Services and Funding
The [Organization] Meetings Team provides site and venue selection, contract negotiations, attendee management, communications, planning/on-site services, group air travel, content and agenda development, invoice payment and reporting. The team also provides services for virtual meetings (TelePresence, videoconference, webcasts) that include more than 50 people in attendance and are not self-service.

Meeting/event planning services through the Meetings Team are funded through a shared-services model. Meeting sponsors and budget holders do not need to budget for planning services.

Process
Considerations before seeking assistance from the Meetings Team:

1. Conference rooms at the organization's offices should always be considered before going off-site. Off-site meetings or events may be allowed if internal space is not available or if the meeting or event is client-facing and requires an off-site venue.

2. Employees should first attempt to meet business objectives through the use of virtual technologies. [Insert link to Organization's established Meetings Portal for more guidance.]

3. Meetings/events should be organized in a location that minimizes the number of people traveling and the overall travel costs for the group.

Registration
Before choosing dates and requesting meeting services:

1. Review the meeting/event calendar [link] before scheduling your gathering, to reduce parallel conflicts. Also, be sure to consult a global holiday calendar [link].

2. Register your meeting/event using [this form].

3. A meeting budget must be provided to initiate a meeting request. If the approximate cost is unknown, please use the meeting cost calculator on the [Meetings Portal].

Approval
Events must be approved before the planning process beings.

1. The registered meeting/event will be routed for approval to a business unit leader. The meeting requester will be notified once approval is granted. Approval can take up to XX days.

2. Disapproved meetings/events can be resubmitted for approval after the business unit leader and the meeting sponsor/holder agree on re-establishing the meeting initiation process with the allocated budget.

3. The Meetings Team may research potential destinations and venues before the meeting is approved but may not work more than eight [or other number] hours on an unapproved meeting/event and may not sign any contractual commitments.
 
Procurement and Contracting
Any meeting/event valued at more than [$10,000 or choose threshold] must go through a fair and equitable process of selecting suppliers by sending out a minimum of three requests for proposal (RFPs). Dates, rates, space, services and client status are considerations of a thorough meeting/event RFP evaluation when selecting a location.

1. The Meetings Team/Sourcing Team will search through [Organization's] preferred and nonpreferred properties for adequate space. To maximize value, when possible, meetings/events should be held at a property in the preferred hotel program. If there is a preferred property in the chosen location, and rates and space are comparable, the preferred property must be used. (For a list of preferred suppliers, see the Meetings Portal.)

2. Meetings that are registered and requested during the same time period and in the same location may be considered viable for a shared-space initiative. Sharing meeting/event space at hotels benefits [Organization] by reducing cost and resources. If the meeting/event is considered viable for the shared-space initiative, the meeting sponsor will be notified and discussions will follow.

3. All contracts, regardless of dollar amount, must be signed by an [Organization] representative as designated in the Signature of Authority document located on the Meetings Portal.

Planning
The Meetings Team will manage or assist with all logistical planning needs such as on-site room setups, activities, meals, attendee registration, communications, budget management, audio-visual, ground transportation, air travel coordination, on-site support, supplier coordination, billing and reporting.

1. All group air travel must be arranged by the Meeting Team or through the use of [Organization's] travel management company [name and link].

2. Entertainment activities should never occur at gentlemen's clubs (or like establishments) or venues that do not reflect a professional atmosphere.

3. Some off-site activities are allowed without Certificates of Insurance, others require Certificates of Insurance or signed waivers, and certain activities are not allowed at any time. Please consult the Meetings Portal for a list of activities and requirements.

Payments
Meeting/event charges must be paid through the [Designated Card]. If a supplier will not accept the card, charges should be invoiced and paid through Accounts Payable.

Ethics
Personal incentive points, meeting planner points, tickets, credits, gifts, complimentary services, or other awards offered by suppliers are not permitted and must be declined. For more information, refer to the [Organization] Code of Conduct located [here]. Other specifications include the following:

1. Perishable items received, such as fruit or flowers, should be shared among staff in the local office.

2. A complimentary one-night stay at a hotel may be accepted only if the meeting planner has issued a request for proposal for an upcoming meeting at that property and the property is under serious consideration for the meeting.  

3. Familiarization ("FAM") trips may not be accepted. The meeting planners and budget holder may request a site visit at discounted rates but may not accept free room nights if a request for proposal was not submitted to the hotel.  

Exceptions and Questions
Questions or requests for exceptions should be directed to [name and contact information]. The procedure for requesting an exception is detailed on the Meetings Portal.