Redefining Strategic Meetings Management

The term "strategic meetings management" has taken on a variety of definitions and nuances, with a meaning that morphs depending on one's role in the world of corporate meetings management. But the concept of a strategic meetings management program, or SMMP, was first coined in 2004 by the Groups and Meetings Committee of the National Business Travel Association (now the Global Business Travel Association). Four years later, in an effort to standardize the term throughout the travel and meetings industries, GBTA and Meetings Professionals International jointly agreed on the following definition:

Strategic meetings management (SMM) is a disciplined approach to managing enterprise-wide meeting and event activities, processes, suppliers and data in order to achieve measurable business objectives that align with the organization's strategic goals/vision, and deliver value in the form of quantitative savings, risk mitigation and service quality.

The definition implies a company-wide consolidation of meetings management responsibilities; it doesn't really address the value derived from the strategic planning of individual meetings.

But by the admission of the GBTA Global Meetings Task Force, the definition should be reassessed. "New concepts are emerging that incorporate the viewpoints of the growing number of identified stakeholders who are engaged in SMM," explains task force member Linda J. McNairy, vice president of strategic partner management for Active Network and StarCite. "They include the planners, travel managers, finance, global leaders, suppliers and technology officers. The list is vast."

The broad reach of SMM means the task force likely will issue a revised definition within the next three to six months, says McNairy. "I see the total SMM opportunity as a very large canvas, with the current definition encompassing a portion within it. Our goal is to expand the definition and thought leadership to better fill this canvas."