Real-time results from an ongoing poll on our new strategic meetings management portal reveal that, out of 25 meeting managers who have taken the poll so far, 76 percent work in companies that have a formal meeting policy in place with specifics such as who can plan meetings, the approval process, how contracting is done and by whom, and the use of preferred suppliers.

Interestingly, that hasn't been George Odom's experience. The president of Strategic Travel and Meetings Group, Odom says he recently was asked to do several benchmarking engagements regarding travel policies. "One of the criteria I have been looking at is whether there is a reference in the travel policy to a meeting policy and/or whether there is direction on what to do if someone is planning a meeting. It has been very interesting that some of the largest and very well know organizations don’t have formal meeting policies and at best only require group air travel to go through their travel departments. Many of the companies have meeting departments, but they don’t have a formal, corporate mandated policy and don’t require employees to use them."

For more on creating a meeting policy and other early steps of establishing an SMM, visit the Get Started section of our new SMM portal. In 2008, the National Business Travel Association revised its white paper on creating a policy, which can be found on its web site.

The SMM portal will post new polls every week. Take our new poll on outsourcing today. and check back for final results. The new portal is the place to go for SMM tips, tools, education, and benchmarking. In addition to dozens of articles from our magazines, you’ll find an extensive research section with links to free webinars and white papers, a glossary of SMM terminology, a listing of upcoming seminars at industry meetings, information on the new SMMC certification, and much more.

There’s also a forum where four of the top SMM experts are on call to answer your specific questions. This week, Mike Malinchok, principal at S2K Consulting, answer’s Victoria Johnson, CMP, CMM, supervisor, Underwriters Laboratories, about how to make the case for hiring a professional meeting planner.