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Bringing the Strategy Back into Meetings Management

When it comes to meetings and events, the role of strategic planning cannot be overstated. In this Q&A, NeKeta Argrow, a Strategic Solutions Advisor within BCD M&E’s Performance Optimization Team, provides her insights into why we need to bring “S” back into SMM, and where it went in the first place.


Can you give an overview of the role of the Performance Optimization Team at BCD M&E?

Our primary focus is new client implementations. We’re responsible for ensuring that the client onboarding process into the BCD M&E environment is smooth and that all stakeholders, both client-side and at BCD M&E, have a positive experience. We discuss with our clients what their overall strategy and operational goals are, and in turn deliver our consultative expertise in both areas. We also do independent consulting that range from the assessment and recommendation of a global meeting policy to more complex change management engagements that include things like updating an entire meetings management strategy and delivery plan.


What role do you see strategy playing in the future of SMMPs?

It seems like over time, there has been less emphasis on the ‘S’ in SMMP (Strategic Meetings Management Programs), but this is beginning to change. I see it with our new and existing clients and we’re seeing it across the industry as a whole. Over the past several years, our industry has had to focus primarily on operations delivery as the world re-opened and M&E volume returned. We settled into annual planning versus a long-term strategy to ensure the successful support of the day to day needs of organizations. As we continue to navigate economic, social, and environmental challenges, people’s appreciation of strategy is growing. It’s back to being the cornerstone of any successful program directly amplifying the business impact of meetings management.


As account managers and clients are refocusing on strategy, what are your recommendations to recharge?

When meeting with clients, new and existing, I rely on our Maturity Model as it is a powerful tool that can serve as the basis of a program’s strategic framework by clearly identify optimization opportunities and empowering organizations to build a success blueprint around them. However, strategy delivery is just as important. Revisiting your team’s ways of working and establishing a set of guiding principles will help influence how decisions are made and how teams collaborate across an organization, making it easier to deliver on the program strategy.

My recommendation to account managers and their clients is to revisit the BCD M&E Maturity Model and dust off the results from years prior to understand where progress occurred, stalled, or even retracted. It’s also important for organizations to share their new corporate mission and business goals with their meetings partner in order to develop a multi-year business plan that fits all objectives. The make-up of meetings and events has changed as well, so studying an organization’s meetings landscape for new business trends will help educate stakeholders on what a long term strategy looks like, or where it should be heading.


Can we talk about strategy and operations in the same sentence?

Absolutely. Operational strategy can sometimes be overlooked, but it’s the driving force for the delivery of the program strategy to meet business priorities. Operations strategy answers the ‘how’ and ensures alignment of all key stakeholders which is fundamental to a successful delivery.

When developing an operations strategy, it’s important to speak with members of the operations team and key stakeholders that work directly with them to understand performance trends such as process roadblocks or accelerators that need to either start, stop, or continue. These trends will help organizations make decisions for planning as well.


Want to learn more?

To hear more about new concepts in meetings management, listen to the Meetings Matter podcast “The future of Strategic Engagement: Innovative Trends and How to Embrace them” with NeKeta as she shares her profound insights into the transformative power of Strategic Engagement Management (SEM). An innovative approach born amidst the challenges of the pandemic, SEM redefines success behind the curtains of event planning.




Originally published March 19, 2024

Written by BCD Meetings & Events

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