Taking Your SMM Program Global
Strategic Meetings Management from Maui to Mumbai
by Michael J. ShapiroMarch 1, 2012
• 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.
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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 Support• Make
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.
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.
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 Sensitivities• Avoid 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
• 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.
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.