by Michael J. Shapiro | October 05, 2016

Organizations are doing a much better job of mitigating meetings risks than they were three years ago, according to new research from American Express Meetings & Events. In an August 2016 survey of more than 400 meeting planners, meeting owners and company leaders, 89 percent of planners and 80 percent of meeting owners agreed that risk is properly mitigated in their companies. Those figures represent a drastic improvement over the Amex survey findings in 2013, when just 49 percent of planners and 56 percent of owners gave their organizations' policies the thumbs-up. In the new report, "Mitigating Meetings Risk: 2016 vs. 2013 Findings," American Express M&E points out some key areas to watch, despite the overall improvements.

• Crisis management.  A solid 86 percent of meeting owners have or plan to implement duty-of-care clauses in their meeting policies, the study found, to protect attendees in the event of interruptions or threats. However, nearly one-third of respondents do not have standard operating procedures in place to manage a crisis, and about 11 percent of planners do not track their attendees.

• Expense data tracking and reporting. Nearly 95 percent of planner respondents are tracking and reporting on all meeting expenses, an impressive 15 percent rise over the findings in 2013. At the same time, about half of meeting owners reported that their organization doesn't actually require planners to track savings and cost data, meaning processes and guidelines might not be standardized.

• Ethics. Results point to ethical missteps actually heading in the wrong direction. In 2013, just 2 percent of meeting owners suspected that unethical activities, such as potential misuse of fam trips, were occurring in their organizations. This year that number has skyrocketed to 15.5 percent. 

• Policy. A full 100 percent of planners said they are likely to follow their organizations' meeting policies, up from 88 percent in 2013. That success is slightly undermined by the 17 percent of meeting owners who said they do not have a formal meeting policy in place.

• Contracts. Legal and procurement departments are reviewing hotel contracts, noted 86 percent of planner respondents - a sign that organizations are taking financial and legal risks much more seriously than in the past.

The new report can be downloaded free of charge here.