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The Paragon Partnership is a group of travel management organisations including NBTA and many other international and regional organisations. The Paragon Partnership held it’s first European conference in Paris this summer and I had the privilege to speak there with Dr. Elling Hamso in a combined closing general session. He introduced ROI, I presented meeting Architecture and Elling closed off with some purchasing models. I was nervous, thinking that travel people have less of an interest in Meetings. I thought travel managers would feel Meeting Architecture is not really for them, too much for meeting by meeting, hands-on work.
To my surprise they were the most positive audience I have ever had.
So now I’m trying to get my head around this. Why is it that travel managers seem to be more interested in Meeting Architecture than the average meeting planner? One thing I understand is that many of them in the travel management are procurement, or close to procurement and therefore have a more overall, organisation wide interest and view. Today, travel spend is under control as far as individual (corporate) travel is concerned. They have purchasing models, contracts, technology, on line systems etc. The travel industry in that sense is a more mature industry than the meetings industry. The travel managers and certainly their department leaders are in that sense - of managing large company wide spent - closer to the executives. The corporate executives know them and kind of understand what they do. And more and more these executives are asking the travel managers to look at the travel spend in meetings and events, a spend that is much less “under control”, less centralised. Therefore, these travel people are now looking at the meeting industry and trying to understand more of it. They are looking to add the Meetings spend to their portfolio and leverage their buying power even more.
The presentation Dr. Hamso and I did opened their eyes to the two track procurement approach. On one hand there is the classic model of standardised products (Commodities) like seats in plane and hotel rooms, and on the other hand there is the made to measure design of form and content of the meetings. Every time the audience is different, the messages are different, the objectives change. In order to reach a good return on investment, it is not just about savings on the cost side (the large contracts with Airlines, Hotel Brands etc) but also on doing the right things on the ‘content’ side of meetings. Here it may be more an issue of professionalising, spending more resources, mainly time, and designing the best possible meeting – spending in the right things – every time. … and his is where Meeting Architecture – the discipline, and MAP™ (Meeting Architecture Process) –the standard operating Process, have a role to play. Meeting management and the Business Travel management industry by extension are clearly eager to join the ride of meeting architecture. And I, for one, welcome them. Their skills and strategic minds can only be an asset for our industry. If the meeting industry welcomes the guidance of this ‘older brother’ it will grow up faster and be better armed for whatever challenges lie ahead.
San Diego here we come!
The next milestone in this process is the first ever MAP™ one day course at the NBTA conference in San Diego. This is where MAP™ will be explained to a class of travel and meeting managers as the standard operating process for managing the design of meetings based on objectives with maximising ROI in mind. A pre conference read, the theory behind the model, the templates and exercises will make participants able to use or explain MAP™. MAP™ will be the first packaged and trained SOP enabling large corporations to spend wiser and create more effective meetings. I cannot wait to see who will be among the first participants and the first ever MAP™ master class.