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JEAN-PAUL VENHERF
Global Travel Manager
E. I. Dupont de Nemours Inc.

PAST Vanherf has worked on the U.S. DuPont meetings and events SMMP since 2008, after it was launched by his predecessors in 2006. He was then asked to launch a similar program in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. “The complexity in EMEA is different than in the U.S.,” he says, because of “the language issues, the difference in currencies, the strong local cultures, the taxation and local VAT regulations, the meeting card acceptance, and the interaction with third-party suppliers.”

AHA MOMENT Vanherf has led both DuPont’s Kaizen and Six Sigma programs in his department, which he calls “a true example of global collaboration.” The team members were based not only in different countries in Europe, but also in Australia and in the U.S., and worked in finance, IT, sourcing, HR, and sales and marketing. They also included his supplier partners.

“No other function has as many interactions with other departments as meetings and events. You need to meet the expectations of the planners, the budget holders, and the attendees—sometimes up to a thousand people."

LOOKING AHEAD Vanherf says he still needs to improve adoption of the SMMP internally, to get all hotels and congress centers to adopt his European DuPont contract (“It’s impossible for me to review hundreds of different agreements.”), and leverage the meetings spend with the travel spend. He also wants to do more with ROI: “ROI is for the sales and marketing and sales departments what savings is for the procurement/sourcing people.”

ADVICE Offer flexibility in your meetings policy to allow experienced meeting planners to still be involved with their meeting. “Some planners still have their own local agencies for on-site assistance and the operational stuff. I have no problem with that. However, I am much stricter about the sourcing of meetings and about using the corporate meeting card.” He also will not authorize meeting planners to sign contractual agreements. “We’re seeing SMM shift from sourcing and contracting only to full program management,” he says. “It’s becoming a fully outsourced solution.” —Barbara Scofidio