Meetings & Expense in the Spotlight at Special Buyer Knowledge Exchange

07 Mar 2024

The decision-making process for creating a meeting & events (M&E) policy, understanding the volume of meetings in the pipeline, spend threshold rules, non-compliance, internal communication, risk processes, and lack of data, were some of the challenges discussed at a special ITM Buyer Knowledge Exchange session focussing on M&E. 

Buyer Knowledge Exchange (BKE) sessions are hosted monthly by ITM to assist buyer members problem solve common issues, ask questions of their peers, and benchmark their approach. During the regular January BKE, Meetings & Expense emerged as an area where several buyers were looking for more support and guidance with their meetings management responsibilities. ITM therefore decided to host an extra BKE workshop on this specialist topic in February. 

The group shared their recommended approach:

  • Do you need to meet in person, or host a hybrid meeting? If so, use internal meeting spaces as the first option. If the meeting still needs to be held externally, and it is above a certain spend threshold, it should be arranged in partnership with the M&E agency.
  • Identify spend thresholds for approval processes, or align thresholds with procurement rules, and publish these guidelines. For example, colleagues have autonomy to book meeting/event if cost is below a specified amount. 
  • Don’t necessarily start with a hard policy; identify stakeholders and what/where they are booking. Get their buy-in by explaining the reasons for generating a policy.
  • Discussions also turned to the use of technology tools and event management platforms, not only for registration but also as a funnel for visibility of activity for budgeting and reporting purposes, as well as providing a quick and easy way for colleagues to assess best location for a meeting. 

Travel buyers also shared their insights on using the events services of their existing TMC versus a standalone M&E partner. Those buyers with a global remit discussed the issue of finding a partner with a truly global solution rather than subcontracting to smaller vendors in the regions. One buyer advised the success of their global programme required significant local support in the individual markets. Partnering with an agency other than the TMC M&E division also requires clarity on roles and responsibilities – which one should the user be talking to? Connectivity between both partners should also be considered. 

The group also discussed ways to encourage compliance. For example, when introducing a new policy implement it as ‘soft’ for the first six months, continue the engagement during those six months and refine; accordingly, then start following up on rogue spend and put the policy firmly in place.

For a full download of the special M&E Buyer Knowledge Exchange, Buyers can visit the ITM Resource Centre to access the notes from the session. A dedicated BKE session on Meetings & Events will also be hosted by Nicholas Nelson, EY and Imogen Furness, Willis Towers Watson at the ITM Empower Conference in Brighton on 24 April 2024.