Companies looking to innovate, lead industry trends, and break into new markets are turning their attention towards corporate meetings. In fact, between 1 to 4% of annual revenue is spent on meetings and related expenditures.1&2 Why are businesses making corporate meetings a priority? The reason is simple. A well planned and executed corporate meeting has tremendous value. Various studies report that meeting planners, marketers, and executives find corporate meetings are critical to:

  • Closing Deals3
  • Identifying Networking Opportunities3
  • Professional Growth3
  • Improving Team Engagement3
  • Creating Greater Collaboration3
  • Increasing Productivity3
  • Improving the Bottom Line3
  • Driving Revenue4
  • Increasing Leads4
  • Building Awareness4
  • Significantly Impacting Employee Performance5

In light of these compelling outcomes, the majority of executives state that corporate meetings provide a great return on investment6 and are worth the cost.7

The Challenges of Meeting Planning

Although a successful meeting is well worth the cost, a failed meeting can result in huge losses to your revenue and reputation.  Planning your corporate meeting in-house might seem simple enough. However, most businesses struggle with common challenges when it comes to planning, executing, and participating in meetings:

  • Time: When it comes to meeting planning, deadlines are critical and difficult to navigate. With the clock racing against you, key details can easily be forgotten.
  • Manpower: If the planning is divided between several people and departments, miscommunication is often inevitable. Each person already has limited availability and the lines can easily blur as to who will be doing what, and when.
  • Incoherent Objectives: Likewise, different departments will have varying objectives resulting in a tug of war when it comes to decision-making, and priorities. For example, purchasing might prioritize savings while marketing may be focused on participation and sales may be looking at improving productivity through increased revenue.
  • Vendor Selection and Negotiation: This can be especially challenging for the inexperienced meeting planner. Are the vendors properly vetted? Are you receiving the best price and value? How will you know if you are receiving the best value?
  • Auditing: After the event is over, many organizations incur unnecessary charges simply by failing to check that prices and services were delivered as promised.
  • Risk Mitigation: Many companies are unaware of their vulnerabilities and forget to consider insurance coverage, problematic contract clauses, or liability issues.
  • Staffing: Who will be running your event? If your meeting is understaffed, or your staff is stressed out or unable to answer questions, it quickly becomes apparent to attendees which damages the overall experience.
  • Communication and Marketing: Even if you have a clear goal in mind, you must ensure that objective is obvious to your participants through your event marketing and meeting structure.
  • Measuring Success: After an event is over you need to be able to translate the outcomes and value of the meeting to determine whether or not your goals were achieved.

Planning a corporate meeting is no small task. Before embarking on a DIY attempt, ask yourself if you will really achieve the best value for the time and money spent.

The High Cost of Status Quo

The assumption is that in-house planning is the best way to stay under budget. However, due to the challenges listed above many organizations are unaware of the true cost of their planning efforts. Even a seemingly successful outcome such as positive attendee feedback, might not be enough to justify the total cost. The outcome becomes even less clear when considering the potential risk and long-term staffing outcomes such as morale, longevity, and recruitment of key talent.

Consider the following example:

The contract for an association meeting conference includes two clauses; a sliding scale for F&B and a standard attrition clause. A contract review revealed that if the clauses were considered individually, expenses were on or under budget.  However, based upon the contract language, both clauses could apply. In the event that both clauses were applicable, the company would incur an overwhelming 40% increase on the $100,000 they expected to spend.8

PRO TIP: Experienced meeting planners are experts at protecting your interests whether your budget or your reputation. They won’t just review your contract and look at the clauses that exist. They will calculate which clauses could cost you and negotiate terms for minimal impact. Additionally, they won’t just select vendors. They will perform vendor evaluations, so you understand your potential exposure whether through insurance risk or reputation.  To further avoid possible disasters, they use a proactive vendor risk assessment that evaluates risks, mitigates them, and plans for a crisis should one arise.

Getting Started:  Target Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Regardless of whether your meeting is planned in-house or outsourced, you won’t get far without knowing the KPIs of your meeting.  Your goals should be more than simply the number of attendees that show up and provide feedback.  Ideally, KPIs should be driven by the overall value that is brought to an organization through:

  • Cost Savings: negotiation, cost containment, rebates, bundling, vendor relationships, and bulk buying.
  • Risk Mitigation: venue sourcing, vendor vetting, contract review, crisis planning, and insurance review.
  • Behavioral Impact: productivity, collaboration, engagement, professional growth, and driving revenue.

Professional meeting planners don’t just know the right questions to ask.  They have policies and procedures to ensure that the KPIs are defined, measurable, and monitored. They will track both the short-term and long-term impact. KPIs should be based upon factors such as relationships, revenue, recall and so forth which tie into the business objectives of the meeting.   For example:

  • If the business goal is to sell a product or service, the ROI may be revenue as well as relationships such as customer retention and new relationships with meaningful business potential (e.g. refer new business, generate quality/profitable new business, etc.)
  • If the business goal is to increase brand awareness, reach/identify or tap new markets, strengthen the company then the ROI will be reputation.
  • If the business goal is to educate or train or improve the knowledge of employees, suppliers/vendors, customers on a product, service or a specific subject than the ROI would be recall and productivity.

To Outsource or Keep In-House

Even when considering the challenges above, it still might be difficult to determine when to outsource. The key to making this decision is assessing whether or not you have enough resources to meet the demands of planning. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have buying power?
  • Do you have the time or staff available to plan, scout locations, and run the event?
  • Do you know where savings can be made without impacting the event’s quality?
  • Do you have enough experience with risk mitigation to feel extremely comfortable with it?
  • Do you know what details you should be considering?
  • Do you have extensive experience with contract clauses and review?
  • Do you have a crisis plan in case of emergencies?
  • Do you have a need for extra support services during the event?

If your planning is already done in-house, how can you improve your strategy to address these questions? Where does your procedure need to change in order to save more and mitigate risks? Going forward do you have the resources to select a point person who can determine and follow-up on KPIs, divvy up responsibilities, prioritize tasks appropriately?

Outsourcing your meeting doesn’t mean you’ll give up control of your event.  In fact, it actually means you’ll have more time to focus on more critical details. Instead of auditing a contract you can focus on creating buzz about the meeting, gathering material for participants, or checking in with key-stakeholders to ensure their objectives are being met.

Justification and Impact

As you plan for future meetings, take some time to reflect on your company’s past experiences. Where might you have suffered a loss without even realizing it? Are you getting everything you can in savings? Are you sufficiently prepared in case of emergencies or damages?

Now imagine if those losses were minimized or eradicated. Think of the long-term effect even minimal savings would have on your company. Professional meeting planners will help you avoid the common challenges by:

  • Providing you with experienced staff to plan and run your event, allowing you and your staff the time to focus on other issues. Imagine – No more missed planning deadlines or worries about securing special offers!
  • Helping you set measurable KPIs and following up with you afterward to discuss the results.
  • Handling the vendor selection, negotiation, and follow-up reporting to ensure you receive the best prices and value.
  • Mitigating risks through a careful contract review, preparing an emergency action plan, and more.

By utilizing their expertise, they will help you achieve the results that made you hold your corporate meeting in the first place. Professional meeting planners will help you plan a meeting that will allow your company to strengthen your team, build relationships through networking and increasing leads, and brainstorm ideas for the future.

For more information about planning a corporate meeting, contact Gavel International to learn more about how outsourcing can help streamline your process.


  1. Travel and Meetings Management Integrations: Still Work In Progress For Most” – White Paper by BTN Group (sponsored by Travel and Transport), 2014
Jim Bozzelli