Should You Consolidate Small Meetings or Leave Them Alone? 5 Things to Consider in Your Decision
Jun 21, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

meetingThere is no question that large meetings have the greatest economies of scale and lend the most negotiating muscle to planners. And with meetings on the upswing and travel budgets loosening up a bit, many planners are looking at consolidating their smaller meetings into one or two larger ones. But does this make sense for your organization and attendees? 

According to Carlson Wagonlit Travel, 67% of all North American meeting spend occurs with small meetings which they define as one with 25 persons or less. With the premise that combining meetings will save on planner staff time and cut meeting costs, it is something to take a hard look at — especially as most organizations are into the planning process of next year's meetings and beyond. 

Here are five things to consider when making your decision: 

Establish Definitions.

Identify what constitutes a small, medium or large meeting by your organizational definition. Is it just the number of attendees and budget? What if it has a trade show attached to it? Or sponsorship dollars? 

Take Inventory. 

Now that you have the definitions identified, determine the following for each meeting: 

  • The number of small, medium and large meetings you held in the last 18 months
  • The budget, including renting audio visual equipment
  • The venue and guest rooms attained
  • Where attendees traveled from and their transportation methods
  • The length 
  • The number of speakers and where they came from

After completing this process, you may be able to identify rather quickly whether to eliminate, consolidate or leave the meeting as is. 

Interview Stakeholders. 

Once you have identified a potential game plan for your meetings, interview company officials, attendees, sponsors and exhibitors to determine if the new plan will meet their wants and needs. Gathering feedback and then tweaking the plan will help make the proposal successful. Be certain to document what was said by whom in case further clarification is needed. 

Make Your Case. 

When you take your proposal to management, highlight the amount of money and time you will save when consolidating or eliminating certain meetings. In addition, you will want to present why certain meetings, such as sales and training seminars, are more effectively completed in a smaller, more personalized environment. 

Engage Suppliers. 

Once management has signed off on your plan, don't be afraid to negotiate with suppliers on a volume discount basis. For example, if you are going to continue with several off-site small meetings across the US, perhaps you negotiate a meeting room and block rate with a chain hotel who will treat the revenue as it does one large meeting. When looking at your corporate audio visual needs, consider multi-location or a multi-year contract with your supplier

AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family, services small- to medium-sized events with state-of-the-art total technology solutions. Let them help you shine with cost-affordable solutions at your next meeting!  

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