Strategic Meeting Management is the proactive management of meeting related processes which includes company-wide meeting spend, procurement standards, and supplier selection. It requires companies and planners to define policies related to the procurement of services and to establish standard processes based on industry best practices. The benefits are many. Through program compliance, private companies, associations and non-profit organizations can maximize cost savings, minimize risks and ensure an appropriate return on investment when planning meetings. When executed properly, the benefits to large companies can be substantial. Historically, sophisticated SMM programs have been limited to the largest of organizations. However, many of the fundamental tenants of SMM apply to meetings of all sizes, in particular, to mitigating costs and risks.

A panel of 30-plus industry professionals consisting of meeting planners, hoteliers, other suppliers and hospitality attorneys spent five years to develop the APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange) Guide of accepted practices for housing facility and convention center contracts. The goal was to provide an educational tool for meeting planners and suppliers to better understand best practices related to contracts.

Why so much time and effort on this project? The site selection and contracting phase of meeting planning represents a significant portion of pre-meeting expense in terms of exposure cost and real labor cost. According to Lynda Garvey of American Express Advisory Services, sourcing and contracting is the pre-meeting phase where you can save your company 70% by mitigating risks.1 Well-written, properly executed contracts address exposures to attrition, cancellation, disputes, indemnification, and ADA compliance to name a few. I have personally seen the return on investment in my dealings with group functions, both as a supplier and as a planner. Colleen Logan Brennan, CMP, Senior Planner for KPMG’s Global Service Centre, estimated conservatively that planners spend roughly 50 labor hours (approximately $1,500), per 200-attendee meeting to perform the site selection, request for proposal and contracting phase of each program.1

When you use the site selection and contract services of THE MEETiNG DEPARTMENT®, you can be assured that the process we follow reflects the best practices available in the industry today. Our contract forms have been developed by a leading hospitality industry attorney.2

1 Source: MeetingsNet, in cooperation with CIC/APEX, Use APEX as a Strategic Meeting Management Tool, Webinar, May 21, 2008

2 THE MEETiNG DEPARTMENT® provides general business advice regarding hotel/facility contracts and does not offer legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your company’s legal counsel or a qualified hospitality attorney before signing contracts. THE MEETiNG DEPARTMENT® can provide you with appropriate contact information if needed.

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THE MEETiNG DEPARTMENT® gratefully acknowledges that the outstanding photos used on this site are courtesy of: Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah, GA (Preferred Hotels & Resorts / Kessler Collection); Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Kiawah Island Golf Resort; Kiawah Island, SC; KSL Resorts (Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Austin, TX); The Carneros Inn, Napa, CA; The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Banff, AB (Canada); The Fairmont Palliser, Calgary, AB and The Rimkrock Resort, Banff, AB.