Keys to Becoming a SMM Preferred Vendor

SMM Board Room TableThe release of a revolutionary white paper entitled Building a Strategic Meetings Management Program by the NBTA (National Business Travel Association) in 2004 is even more relevant in 2012. The program was designed to set a meetings and events industry standard for businesses. Today, this program is sitting at more board room tables than ever before as controls compliance and the effect of meetings on the bottom line rise to the top. How can you become a Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) preferred vendor and contribute to your client's SMM initiative as a key tool in marketing for hotel group business and increase group hotel bookings?

Becoming a preferred vendor as part of a corporation’s SMM program is challenging but well worth the effort taken. What can you do now to better prepare for the preferred vendor opportunity?

Understand Strategic Meetings Management (SMM).

There are a number of definitions of SMM but they all boil down to this: SMM is the strategic management of a company's meeting-related processes, meeting spend, numbers, standards and vendors to leverage costs, mitigate risks and deliver "best in class" service.

Know Your Own Business.

What are your meeting-related processes? What are your company's standards? Do you have a risk management policy in place? What does your technology look like? You must understand your own business in relationship to SMM before taking on the competitive SMM bidding process for preferred vendors.

Study Requirements for Preferred Vendors.

If possible, obtain a copy of your client’s Strategic Meetings Management requirements for preferred vendors in advance. Know that you will be asked to supply proprietary documentation and information related to your controls, personnel, etc. as part of an SMM review.

Be Competitive. 

Include in your presentation your standard contract process. Ensure that your presentation also includes a technology manager who will supervise a program that includes on-line RFPs, social media, in-house meeting technology and industry trends. Offer a fair and flexible attrition policy that protects your company and gives breathing room to the client. Have in place a risk management initiative that protects the best interests of both you and your client. When sharing the preferred vendor rate that you are willing to offer, share also the value-add amenities that you will provide the client such as VIP check-in, complimentary valet parking or a dedicated reservation line. Get creative with additional value you can offer that is of little or no cost to you but that resonates with the client. To know what your competitors are doing is another important factor in your preparation of your presentation.

Be Thorough and Consistent. 

Once you are officially invited to participate in the preferred vendor bidding process, do everything that is requested by the client including completing all documentation thoroughly. Review, review, review until you are certain that all requests are fulfilled and that you have presented your product in the best light possible.

Earn Certification.

Consider certification in SMM. Through the GBTA (Global Business Travel Association) you can earn the Strategic Meetings Management Certification (SMMC). Achieving the SMMC will prove your dedication as a Strategic Meetings Management professional and will demonstrate to the client that your organization is serious about SMM.

SMM has evolved with the changing climate of the meetings and events industry and is here to stay. You can build your future by preparing your property to be a preferred SMM vendor. Through the preparation process, you will maximize efficiencies, develop solid, long-lasting relationships and your service will improve. The best hotel group business marketing can be gained by achieving the SMM preferred vendor relationship. Through this visibility and credibility you will improve your hotel group business by increasing room blocks. The key to success is that rather than simply being a provider, you become a partner with your client in the strategic management of meetings and events.

Learn more about the Cvent Strategic Meetings Management solution and other Strategic Meetings Management resources.
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