Most benchmarking around strategic meeting management programs has focused on U.S. companies—until now. A new white paper released by Advito, the Dallas-based independent consulting division of BCD Travel, profiles several European companies’ global SMMP efforts and illustrates differences between their meeting planning practices and those of their North American counterparts. Advito released the paper in conjunction with its announcement of a new meeting management consulting practice.

“Differences between countries are larger than generally acknowledged,” the white paper states, “and, as a result, the strategies focusing on standardization that work well in the North American market are less effective in Europe, where regional meetings alignment requires a focus on communication, cooperation, and cost capture.” The United States, the paper explains, is basically one market, with the same currency, language, legal system, and even many of the same suppliers while Europe has more than 40 different markets, each with its own (or often multiple) languages, dialects, currencies, and government regulations.

Among the issues with European meeting management programs is that spot buying—booking hotels on a meeting-by-meeting basis—is the primary purchasing method while North American companies have moved toward preferred-provider contracts. Europe also has a much smaller representation of hotel chains and a lack of consistency in property size and location within the chains. And many European companies rely on third-party planners, not an internal team, to choose their hotels and manage their events.

So how do multinational companies create a consistent meeting-purchasing management across such different platforms? The white paper looks at case studies of several large companies, including pharma giant Pfizer, whose program now includes 39 countries. To develop strong communication, the company created a global meeting council, as well as four regional councils. It also developed software to track meetings that addressed differences in language and currency.

At Deutsche Telekom, a German company, the communication strategy has focused on the employee intranet and e-newsletter, and having procurement send news bulletins six times a year to meeting organizers that include planning tips and success stories, along with special negotiated rates and air fares. By illustrating that procurement’s role is one of support and savings, the company has seen strong buy-in for its program.

Download the free white paper, “The View from the Other Side of the Pond: Hidden Challenges and Intelligent Solutions in Global Meetings Management Consolidation,” at advito.com.