Every year, Corporate Meetings & Incentives honors 20 meeting professionals as Changemakers. Nominated for their innovation and their pursuit of strategic meetings management, these individuals also contribute to the larger meetings community.

After several years of creating the list, we thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to get some of these forward thinkers together to share their ideas?” Thus, the inaugural Change Summit convened at The Revere Hotel Boston Common this summer.

We had help in crafting the summit agenda from meetings expert Debi Scholar, CMP, CMM (Changemaker, 2008), Scholar Consulting Group, who also moderated the program. We designed a pre-meeting questionnaire to identify the most pressing issues for our high-powered guests in order to maximize their time together. And we threw in some networking opportunities as well, hosting a private amphibious-vehicle tour around the city, courtesy of Boston Duck Tours, and enjoying an intimate reception on the patio outside The Revere’s hot new venue, Emerald.

Best Practices

As participants discussed agenda topics ranging from master contracts, to risk management, to meeting objectives, to data analysis, many best practices and ideas were shared. Here is a sampling:

The Value of Face to Face

Does your company publish a newsletter for the sales force? Reach out to sales managers and get them take turns contributing one idea for driving sales that they learned at the annual sales conference. Compile these into a promotional piece for your event.

Debi Scholar, Scholar Consulting Group, led the Change Summit discussion

Maximize Execs’ Time

Look at your meeting calendar. Are there meetings requiring home-office attendance that you can cluster in particular cities, thereby boosting your negotiating leverage and minimizing your executives’ days out of the office? That’s ROI—track it and report it.

Gain Compliance

For administrative assistants and other ad hoc planners throughout the organization, the consequences of not registering their meetings through your SMMP may not be apparent. Tell them you’ll put them on the compliance report if they fail to follow the procedure (even if there is no actual compliance report). Or appeal to them on the grounds of corporate security. Explain that you need to know where traveling employees are at all times in case there is an emergency.

Give Your Small Meetings More Clout

It’s hard to find leverage with hotels for a small meeting program. Go to the chain level and negotiate an agreement that, for your small meetings, the chain’s properties will not charge a room rate that is higher than your corporate transient rate with that chain.

Track the Seemingly Untrackable

Add this question to your next post-meeting attendee survey: What was your biggest takeaway and where did it happen? At a breakout session? In the buffet line? Waiting for the elevator?

Above: Karin Milliman, director, meeting and event services, PwC

Demand Performance—or Payment

Moderator Debi Scholar knowledgeably guided the group through all the day’s issues, and also had her own ideas to share. Here’s one: “While most meeting planning companies claim that they write the best hotel and ancillary services contracts, in fact there are many clauses that are missing from these documents. For example, too few contracts add Service Level Agreements with Key Performance Indicators that require suppliers to pay fees if the KPIs are not met. While an organization will not gain significant savings with risk-based KPIs, it is a practice that an organization should consider in order to improve services and reclaim money from non-performing suppliers.”