What is in this article?:
Liberty Mutual's Mary Keough-Anderson turned her traditional meeting planning team members into a strategic partners with meeting owners—and a model for the future of event management.
Four Tiers of Meetings
But not every event would warrant the full exercise, so Keough-Anderson also explained that meetings would now be grouped into four tiers:
1. Executive level/high touch/incentive meetings
These meetings go through a detailed objective-setting process every year, and the full strategic experience mapping process every two or three years. The first event to be comprehensively redesigned was the 2012 Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf . The result? Stakeholders rated it the “best ever.”
2. Department meetings/small hospitality events
These meetings may involve the director of event strategy or may require primarily logistics service from the meeting department. The assessment is made on a case-by-case basis.
3. Small, regularly planned meetings
These are meetings of fewer than 50 people that traditionally have been managed outside the meeting department by administrative assistants and other occasional planners. Keough-Anderson worked with the corporate travel department to identify the meetings and who was planning them. Those employees were contacted and introduced to StarCite’s Small Meetings Solution, which requires them to input all their meeting information and gives them the benefit of access to pre-approved terms and conditions and other tools. Keough-Anderson held webcast-based training for them; 40 employees have gone through it thus far.
“The message is: ‘You keep your meeting, but here’s a great tool, and all the benefits to you of using this tool.’ Then I can capture all the data and improve Liberty’s overall negotiating leverage and vendor relationships.”
4. Ad hoc small meetings
As part of the restructuring, the meeting department became part of Corporate Shared Services, meaning that its expenses are allocated across all strategic business units according to capital. Previously, the department ran on a chargeback system, with users paying for their specific services. Tracking staff time in order to allocate charges was too complex and time-consuming, Keough-Anderson explains, and some clients avoided using the department because they didn’t want to pay for the service. But one risk of this change, she adds, was that “the floodgates would open” and the department would be overwhelmed with new programs. To counter that, overnight meetings of 50 or fewer people (up to a maximum of three nights and four days), or day meetings with 75 or fewer people, also are managed outside the department through the Small Meetings Solution. Meeting owners are taken through the 45-minute webcast to learn how to use the tool, and the meeting department is available for consultation as necessary. In addition, Keough-Anderson and her team updated a Resource Guide on the corporate intranet, which takes novices through the meeting planning process and includes a glossary of terms.