I’m writing this from the Global Business Travel Association Convention in Denver, where I’m trying to make sense of how the new SMM Initiative just announced by Meeting Professionals International will affect GBTA: its SMM education, the new SMM maturity model, and the projects of the Groups and Meetings Committee (of which I am a part).
Now, fueled by a $250,000 grant from Gaylord Hotels, MPI will have significant resources to introduce its own flavor of SMM to our industry over the next three to five years—one that does not taste at all like GBTA’s, which has guided the industry for the past 10 years.
SMM, à la GBTA, is geared toward procurement and focused on spend management. It grew out of the disciplines of travel management: registration, leveraging volume, and preferred suppliers. MPI’s initiative will be much broader and include meetingsand meeting strategy.
Why make it so confusing, taking an already established discipline and turning it into something else? Could a new certification for MPI’s senior meeting planner members—a next step after the CMM—also be part of the plan?
Slow down, says Lisa English, CMP, CMM,manager, for Cvent, who designed the SMM track for MPI’s World Education Conference in July. MPI is not trying to change the definition of SMM, she says, just to add more perspective for meeting managers. “I have found that these senior members in both associations are looking for the same thing,” she says. “I also think we might be underestimating the sophistication of the senior meeting manager members of MPI.”
Maybe, but it has taken 10 years to get companies to embrace SMM. Rather than operating in silos, the industry would be better served if these two associations worked together more closely to create consistent and unified messaging. Inviting a liaison from GBTA to join the MPI Initiative and an MPI liaison to join GBTA’s thought leaders would be a good first step.