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M.P.I. World Education Congress: Meetings Require Strategy, Technology, Relationships

More than 100 people attended Sunday's session at the World Education Congress to hear industry experts discuss top trends for meetings.  Photo: BizBash

More than 100 people attended Sunday's session at the World Education Congress to hear industry experts discuss top trends for meetings. 

Photo: BizBash

Successful meetings require strategic planning, effective use of technology, and valuing relationships between planners and suppliers. That was the message from a panel based on Meeting Professionals International’s FutureWatch 2011 survey of industry professionals, presented at the World Education Congress on Sunday. The conference runs at the Orange County Convention Center through Tuesday.

“Unless your meetings and events are aligned with your priorities and strategies, your meetings will always be less successful than they could be,” said panelist Bill Voegeli, president of Association Insights, the company that conducted the research. “If you don’t know where you want to go, then getting there is just pure luck.”

Strategic meetings management is based on good procurement practices, according to panelist and consultant Betsy Bondurant. “It seems that everybody in a company can buy a meeting, whereas not everybody in the company can just go out and buy a computer, for example. So I think starting to have a little more strategy and structure around that is something all companies could really benefit from,” she said.  

As new technology continues to hit the market, a critical component of an effective meeting strategy will involve determining how to integrate that technology to achieve objectives.  

“It used to be people wanted to have either a face-to-face meeting or a virtual meeting and now you are seeing this interest in terms of it’s not an either-or situation. So I think we will see a little more innovative use of the technology,” said Greg Van Dyke, senior vice president of PSAV Presentation Services. Event planners should also be using social media for events, not just as a communication tool but also for monitoring what is being said by others before, during, and after events. “Buzz monitoring is an emerging strategic tool,” said Vantage Strategy president Mike Pusateri.  

The global financial crisis of recent years forced suppliers and planners to find new ways to work together to do more with less. And now, even as the economy starts to improve, panelists agreed buyers should continue to value those relationships and engage suppliers early in the planning process to achieve strategic objectives.   

“There is so much that they bring to the table because they have exposure to other companies and other situations and they could see pitfalls and help us avoid those pitfalls. The more we build trust and build that relationship with them it [becomes] more of a partnership,” said Bondurant. Voegeli said it comes back to having clearly defined goals for an event and then sharing that information with suppliers.  

“Why would you add an unnecessary layer of risk for failure because you are unwilling to sit down and define and describe what you are doing to the people you are working with, who can do the best job at making it happen?” he asked.


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