Most benchmarking around strategic meeting management has focused on U.S. companies — until now. A new white paper released by Advito, the Dallas-based consulting division of BCD Travel, profiles several European companies' global SMMP efforts and illustrates differences between their 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.”

Among the issues with European meeting management 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 those chains. And many European companies rely on third-party planners for site selection and event management.

So how do multinational companies create consistent meeting purchasing across such different platforms? The white paper looks at case studies of several large companies, including pharma giant Pfizer, whose program 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 on having procurement send news bulletins that include planning tips and success stories, along with special negotiated rates. By illustrating that procurement's role is one of support and savings, the company has seen strong buy-in.

Download the free white paper at

More On/

  • To learn how three companies — Eli Lilly and Company, ICI, and Xerox Corp. — took their strategic meeting management programs global, visit our Web site. Keywords: Global Control

Negotiations: U.S. Versus Europe

When asked if they negotiate with meeting and event suppliers, travel managers in Europe appear to lag behind their U.S. counterparts.

U.S. 56% 15%
PORTUGAL 30% 19%
ITALY 27% 17%
GERMANY 21% 12%
FRANCE 18% 11%
SPAIN 14% 16%
SOURCE: AirPlus International, Travel Management Study 2007

Strategic Reading

If your company is working to get a grasp on meetings and travel management, you might want to get your hands on a copy of Smooth Landings (2006, Signature Book Printing) by Michael MacNair, CEO and president of MacNair Travel Management. The short volume outlines strategies for maximizing savings and helps travel managers to define the expectations of a successful managed-travel program. In addition, worksheets for evaluating your company's progress and identifying opportunities for improvement are available for download.