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Modernizing your meeting strategy – 4 ways to optimize engagement

As the world celebrates the safe return to travel and corporate meetings, many organizations are asking whether this is also the return to “normal” (in pre-pandemic terms) or if we have arrived at the dawn of a new age.

Undoubtedly, the pandemic instantly changed our view of how to hold a meeting. The widespread onset of digital tool usage allowed us to see each other without being with each other. But we also learned that virtual meeting execution can be complicated, and attendee management and engagement can become a challenge. Both require thoughtful event planning and execution to ensure maximum return on investment.

The pandemic has provided businesses with an opportunity to redesign and redefine their company-wide meeting strategies to enhance audience engagement while also optimizing meeting-related spend and mitigating risk.

Here are four things to consider for your modern meeting strategy:

1) Omni-channel engagement

Organizations may benefit from the thoughtful redesign of their meeting and event agendas to accommodate both synchronous (in-person) and asynchronous (virtual) content delivery. Meeting attendees have become accustomed to viewing meeting content on-demand at their leisure. Still, a well-known side-effect of virtual meetings is increased distraction and reduced engagement. What if your content is crucial and your attendee never views it?

Thoughtfully designed meeting and event agendas should incorporate multiple channels of engagement. In-person content delivery focuses on driving collaboration, idea-creation, relationship building, and, most importantly, controlled messaging. To complement your in-person agenda, layering digital content can extend your meeting’s reach and continue engagement outside of the core meeting agenda, both pre-and post-event. This layered approach optimizes the time investment of both face-to-face and virtual attendees and your organization’s financial investment.

2) Intentionally establishing connections

High-performing teams and businesses require strong internal and external relationships built on trust and respect. These relationships can be challenging to establish and maintain in a virtual environment. In fact, in our 2020 customer survey, 65% of respondents globally cited a downward trend in their ability to engage with customers and employees due to their inability to travel.

And what about onboarding new employees and defining your corporate culture in a virtual environment? How are new employees connecting to the organization and representing your brand?

In an era of blended work environments, organizations should consider a carefully balanced mix of in-person and virtual engagement opportunities to enable employees to collaborate, learn and engage with colleagues, partners, and peers.

3) Motivate and recognize

Many organizations have used incentive travel to recognize top achievers. Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) studies show that experiences have a longer-lasting impression than cash-based awards. However, the pandemic forced significant changes to incentive travel strategies for organizations that primarily used group travel rewards.

With the definitions of ROI changing for both organizations and their high achievers, now may be the time to re-examine or implement an incentive travel program that inspires achievers to contribute to your organization’s overall objectives.

4) Managed meetings

Organizations that had a strategic meetings management program (SMMP) in place are likely to have enjoyed more strategic outcomes from their meetings investment during the pandemic. The visibility into meeting-related contracts allowed for a more strategic approach to canceling and rebooking, minimizing amounts paid in cancellation fees.

In addition, central oversight during the pandemic helped ensure that only approved and safe corporate meetings took place. By incorporating elements of a virtual meeting strategy into an overall SMM program, your business can extend its meetings engagement to a broader group of attendees that were once limited by budget and/or geographic spread. In doing so, you’ll also optimize content engagement, duty of care, and budget.

Ready to modernize your meeting strategy?

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