share
by Michael J. Shapiro | March 01, 2012
Takeaways

Get regional leaders on board by educating them on the benefits of strategic meetings management programs.

Enlist the support of stakeholders on the ground to get local buy-in and gain valuable insight into local practices.

Understand and respect customs and business cultures that might affect planning  policies and attendee experiences in various regions.

Invest in meetings technology that can support complex, multinational financial and linguistic planning differences.

read more

The following checklist was created by Kevin Iwamoto, vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. The guidelines here are adapted from StarCite's new book, Strategic Meetings Management Handbook: From Theory to Practice.

Build Enthusiasm and SupportMake the case to global directors throughout the company, clearly illustrating how each department has benefited from a strategic meetings management program (SMMP) in the United States. Educating or reminding department leaders is a crucial step to build enthusiasm and support.

Be ready to explain the cost benefits to procurement, finance and marketing heads, and gain the support of human resources departments by showing the risk-management safety nets SMMPs can provide.

Collaborate with and ask for feedback, input and advice from local managers. That can go a long way toward turning internal stakeholders into cheerleaders to support your mission.

Frequently communicate goals, plans and procedures, especially in the early stages of implementation. Be prepared to schedule outreach across many time zones, coordinating late-night phone conferences and marathon travel to meet face-to-face for ongoing training sessions.

Respect Cultural SensitivitiesAvoid culture clash by researching the unique cultural differences that play a part in planning, compliance and attendee experience. For example, it might be customary to enjoy a glass of wine at a luncheon in other parts of the world, so a no-alcohol policy during work hours, which might be acceptable in the U.S., might be counter to the way business is conducted in other settings.

Involve people who are on the ground in regions where you'd like to expand your program. A meeting planner in India, for instance, who is invested in the goal can provide insight into the planning processes already in place in that region.

Don't assume professional titles mean the same thing globally. In the Asia Pacific region, for example, administrative assistants can hold enormous control over the schedules of senior executives, including meeting, travel and purchasing directors.

Create policies that are flexible for each country or region in a global SMMP, and incentivize meeting planners to comply with the company's rules on sourcing and preferred suppliers. When there is resistance, always explore and consider the rationale behind it, and ensure you have the authorization to make changes happen.

Select Adaptable Technology Search for meetings technology that will address global differences like currency rates, multiple languages and the ability to meet rules such as multi-country tax laws, legislative requirements, and regulations in specific industries such as finance and life sciences. The technology solution will be the central portal to manage policies, approvals, budgets, registration and data.

Choose a solution that can help provide 24/7 support using live people in a number of languages. Meeting planners and attendees are on the road at all hours and might need help in any region of the world.