Therese Jardine, senior procurement manager, events, at Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., rolled out a small-meetings program at the company in September, and has been working on introducing improvements to streamline the process.
According to Microsoft's policy, ad hoc planners can source meetings that have fewer than 300 attendees and require fewer than 10 sleeping rooms using StarCite's small-meetings technology solution. The meetings usewith standard terms and conditions that the hotels have already signed off on in order to simplify the booking process. Larger meetings are sourced through Microsoft's VenueSource program, which has been in place for the past two years and is managed by StarCite.
The payment process for small meetings requires that planners use a meeting card to pay for the event. It allows Jardine and her team to track spend and compile reports that measure the success of the program. "I have been sending savings reports to the procurement leads in each of our business groups. They can see what our overall savings has been as a company as well as their individual savings as a business group." One of the early benefits of the program is in streamliningnegotiations and eliminating risk. "If you¹re an admin, you need to be able to use the same agreement time and time again. We don¹t want someone who isn¹t a certified meeting planner trying to distinguish between one hotel contract and another." Jardine's next goal is preset package pricing for small meetings. "A lot of the hotels [near the company's offices] don't have set pricing for meetings packages. I am working with our national sales representatives at the major chains to encourage individual [franchise-owned] properties to develop them."