Corporate Meetings & Incentives: Congratulations on being named to co-chair GBTA's Groups and Meetings Committee. What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

Linda Garvey: Our goal is to utilize the collective wisdom of the current team to take it to the next level. We have a committee of 20 people that is second to none. A couple of years ago, we extended this team to occasionally call on former committee members, “alumni” who still want to stay involved because they’re on the cutting edge.

Gigi McGrath: I would add that we need to create some clarity around what a “best-in-class” strategic meeting management program is. There are a lot of interpretations of SMM out there right now. But part of our journey is to talk about what it is not. The GBTA definition of SMM, which was also endorsed by Meeting Professionals International, was important to me when I was defining my program at Stryker and can guide you throughout the process.

CMI: Tell us how the idea for the SMM toolkit evolved. What is the status of the project and when will it be released?

Garvey: It all started when the committee realized there were stumbling blocks to creating an SMM and we determined that the industry lacked user-friendly templates—tools that people could use at each stage, like a sample business plan. The next iteration of the toolkit will be released at the GBTA convention in August as part of our SMM 101 session.

McGrath: Much of the information that’s out there about SMM comes from the supplier side. But we have a committee of some of the leading practitioners—the actual buyers—from within corporations sharing their tools. There’s so much to learn from them.

CMI: How will the new global mission of GBTA affect your committee and its work?

Garvey: It’s part of our strategic vision now, and we consider it in everything we do. We will be looking to mirror the fundamentals of the committee outside the U.S.

McGrath: There’s definitely a need for SMM education outside the U.S. Europe is five to six years behind us on a lot of levels.

I was talking to one of my colleagues in Germany and all they have is their various travel associations (and I don’t know how recognizable or robust they are). So GBTA will be a leader in that space.

CMI: Tell us more about the SMM Maturity Model.

Garvey: The SMM Maturity Model is the first-ever model to define and measure the level of maturity of an SMMP across all critical best-in-class components within a corporation. It will launch this spring and be available on the GBTA web site.

McGrath: What we’ve learned from the model is that very few companies are far along on the maturity curve. We have a long way to go. It’s also important to note that SMM is all about constantly changing, reassessing, and redefining—not stopping once you’ve mastered one part of it.

CMI: What kind of SMM education are you planning for the GBTA convention in August?

Garvey: The SMM 101 and Toolkit will be combined in one program, and we will also do a session with roundtable discussions of hot topics, from hybrid meetings to policy to SMM technologies.

McGrath: Our goal is provide continuing education for a variety of audiences along the SMMP continuum.

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