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| Written by Anne Zambrano

Planning for 2020 … and Beyond!

2020 budgeting and planning is well underway. In fact, there are only 75 days left until the end of 2019! With our focus turning from “finishing the year strong,” toward “planning for 2020,” we thought it would be a great idea to share some sage advice from our thought leaders as you pen out your plans for your meeting and event strategy. 

Don’t just focus on 2020. Do look at 2020 and beyond. 

This holds true when planning for individual meetings as well as your overall M&E strategy.  

The economy remains strong and hotel room and F&B value remains a challenge to actualize. We suggest continuing to think at least a year in advance when planning and 18 -24 months for larger meetings. When sourcing an event, remember you are competing against every organization in every vertical that may hold a meeting; including the corporate, association and government sectors. 

For a M&E strategy, working off a three to five-year plan is ideal. Consider looking at what’s on the horizon and plan accordingly so that funds are available when it’s time to kick off new projects. Whether its aspirations for global expansion or implementing new solutions, it’s important to have a plan that includes continuous improvement. 

Don’t simply focus on the bare minimum. Do focus on Kaizen. 

For budgeting and planning purposes, it is important to not only consider the status quo or what you need to “keep the lights on,” but also anticipate the costs of Kaizen (continuous improvement) initiatives.  Continuous improvements are a vital part of a successful M&E strategies, yet often the costs associated with these initiatives and projects aren’t forecasted.  

Don’t reinvent the wheel every year. Do document and revise SOPs. 

Even if a meeting is an annual occurrence, the planning teams or the internal stakeholders may not be the same year-over-year. Document and revise your internal SOP’s. Collect your data history and make changes to match the trends from your previous meetings. Is your group comprised of late risers? Consider guaranteeing less for breakfast to match your history. Do you have several people coming in pre- and post-conference? Perhaps expand your room blocks as needed. 

Year end is another important area to consider. Does your organization have certain year-end reporting due? Prep and train your internal team and vendors by sharing milestones and SOP’s so they are ready for the busy year-end season. 

Don’t anticipate commissions to remain the same. Do be prepared for additional changes on the horizon. 

Hotel commission cuts from the major hotel chains seem to have stabilized but there could be additional reductions in commissions at any time. If you are using commissions to fund your meeting program, lean on your strategic meetings management vendor for best practices and benchmarking. Educating your internal stakeholder to pay for something like meeting planning services that have been perceived as “value-add” in the past can be difficult. Let your vendor help educate your stakeholders to their value. These low-overhead investments pay dividends in the long run.  

Don’t plan the incentive trip and forget about the contest promotion. Do make sure you have enough resources for a robust incentive content campaign.  

The contest period of a sales incentive promotion is the most important part of the incentive strategy. It is where the “R” in the ROI equation is actualized in terms of increased sales revenue. A superbly designed reward trip is as equally as important. The incentive trip design and destination need to be a draw! However, don’t underestimate the resources needed to properly motivate your contest participants to produce even better results than expected. Create a well-designed internal marketing strategy to compliment and promote your content and its rewards.  

Don’t simply rely on last year’s meeting management technology versions and processes. Do investigate and plan for new releases and solutions.  

Every good strategy includes keeping technology solutions current, which generally means budgeting for technology refinements and enhancements.  This comes in a few different flavors, from purchasing new software to consulting support, to optimizing the use of existing systems.   

For example, if your organization is using Cvent, many organizations will be rebuilding event templates in the new Cvent Flex product in 2020.  The timing of an organization’s transition to Flex depends on the available features in the product relative to the organization’s business requirements. The scope of work associated with the transition is driven by the number of templates and their complexity and may benefit from support by a technology consulting provider such as M&IW’s Intent Strategy Group to fast track the effort. 

Additionally, Cvent has announced new features and modules such as Enterprise Portals which would require not only a software purchase, but implementation support.  Perhaps 2020 is the year to implement a small, simple meetings solution leveraging a niche platform.  If meeting management technology changes, or enhancements are in your future, be sure you properly allocate enough of your own resources, in terms of time and budget, as well as third-party consultant resources needed for a professional implementation. 

The Bottom Line  

Planning and budgeting are vital to an organization’s success. Today’s business world moves fast, and we understand how easy it is to simply put out current fires and make quick changes to remedy your immediate needs. While that is the first step toward reshaping next year’s goals, you must prepare your team by taking the adequate time to properly plan long-term. The time put into this stage will help shape your goals, intent and the solutions you put into place for 2020 … and beyond! 

For more information about forecasting and event planning best practices call 262-835-3553 and ask to speak to one of our global enterprise solutions specialists.