Highlighting what’s top of mind for leading executives in the meetings, events, and incentive travel industry, IMEX America announced today the key insights from the first IMEX America Executive Meeting Forum held in Las Vegas in October 2011.
Sponsored by Ritz-Carlton Hotels, the summit brought together 25 invited meetings executives from the technology, food, energy, finance, software, insurance, and pharmaceutical sectors. Together they represented a total of over US$3.8 billion in meetings and events buying power. Participating organizations included Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Merck, DHL, KPMG LLP, Chevron Corporation, and others.
The IMEX America Executive Forum is designed to reveal fresh ideas and identify solutions and strategies for corporate meetings and events executives, and to discover opportunities for industry progress. The end goals are to develop, implement, and measure successful meetings, discuss optimal paths for the long-term future of the industry from a corporate perspective, and keep a strong focus on short-term needs and pressures.
To help support these goals – and with the continued backdrop of a challenging global economy in mind – executives in the IMEX America Executive Meeting Forum set their sights on specific priorities for 2012 and beyond. Capturing ROI and its power to build stakeholder support was a pressing and common thread discussed, supported by a strong desire to find improved ways to measure, package, and demonstrate the positive impact of events and SMMP (Strategic Meetings Management Programs) to the C-suite.
There was also an interest in doing more pre- and post-meeting surveys and cost-benefit analysis; securing upfront agreement on goals, objectives, and measurements; and undertaking better training and expectation management with key stakeholder business groups – especially finance.
Other requirements and needs were identified as: having more reports that clearly show the true value of professional event planners managing contracts and meetings; developing commonly-agreed industry metrics for risk mitigation, contract clauses, force majeure, and other complex practices; and building more negotiation consistency and power into sourcing strategies.
Additionally at the forum, global SMMP was covered as an area of great opportunity and excitement but also one that requires more structure, including getting a better handle on varied cultural preferences, business operations, and policies, as well as building stronger international team and program management skills.
DOES TECHNOLOGY CREATE AN AGE GAP?
Finally, during the forum discussion, the role of technology continued to provoke strong debate, with virtual spaces, emerging technologies, and speakers using multimedia engagement dominating the agenda. Executives are also closely watching technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and teleprescence with an eye to striking the right balance between technology and access for younger vs. older event or meeting participants.
Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, said: “The Executive Forum was a dynamic and engaging first event for us and an invaluable chance to focus solely on helping move events, meetings, and incentive travel forward within a variety of corporations. The discussions and ideas exchanged are now being used to shape future IMEX America education, networking, and business programs, and especially to bring the needs of corporate meeting planners into sharper focus. We heard loud and clear from this year’s forum participants that they want to keep this powerful face-to-face event going so that they can have frank discussions that will hopefully lead to positive change within their own enterprises and beyond.”
The forum was facilitiated by two specialist US consultants – Terri Brieining, CMP, CMM, and principal with Breining Group LLC, and Kimberly Meyer, founder and CEO of Meetings Analytics.
Kelly Wood, Vice President, Global Sales Organization North America, Ritz-Carlton, commented on the group’s involvement with the forum: “This was a unique initiative enabling hoteliers to learn from some of the most senior meeting planners in the industry, and Ritz-Carlton was thoroughly delighted to have supported it. Meetings business contributes significantly to the success of many hotels. Against a background of a tough economic climate, it is more important than ever that we are in sync with current and future needs. The opportunity to hear directly from the biggest influencers in the sector was priceless.”