When it comes to the execution of meetings, corporate executives are becoming ever more scrutinizing about the costs versus the benefits. After all, once they factor in the money an organizations spends on transportation, lodging, meals, meeting space, technology and other activities on the itinerary, executives are sure to want answers on whether a meeting, incentive program or other event has provided significant value to the organization to justify those costs.
For meeting planners, this scrutiny means they must somehow measure the benefits the organization gains from any meeting or event they coordinate. But rather than try to quantify the value of a meeting in dollars (known as return on investment, or ROI), planners can use the return on objective (ROO) metric to make their calculations more accurate. Why? Because ROO eliminates the vagueness of ROI by focusing explicitly on the progress gained at a meeting, and taking away outside factors that muddy ROI calculations, such as changes to the firm's product, changes in the firm's competitive set and other elements that are beneficial to the firm's revenues but are not related to a meeting.
ROO involves pre-testing of attendees on critical factors that the organization wants to see improved at the meeting, followed by post-testing weeks or months after the meeting to see if those benefits were achieved. For instance, if the goal of a sales meeting is to ensure that at least 90 percent of reps are able to make a sales presentation that touches on the product's four key competitive advantages within five minutes, the meeting planner can have reps conduct mock presentations ahead of the meeting so executives will know what percentage of reps can do the task up front.
Then, several weeks after that sales meeting where reps were educated and coached on presenting the product, the planner and executives can again conduct testing to measure the progress of the sales staff that came from the meeting. If the pre-testing result was, say that 25 percent of reps could do the task, and the post-testing score reached 90 percent, then executives know the meeting was indeed valuable to the organization - and they can perhaps even assign a monetary value specific to the meeting's role in improving reps' abilities.
Such testing can be done for any meeting objective, from understanding critical concepts to improving interpersonal skills to building a new knowledge sharing relationships with coworkers. Furthermore, even questions that ask for the perceptions of attendees regarding certain benefits delivered at the meeting are useful for ROO calculations.
In short, ROO is a more direct metric of a meeting's benefit — something that a hard-dollar ROI assessment often cannot do because of the effect of outside influencing factors that can't be separated out.
At KIGR, a prime meetings facility set on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean near Charleston, SC, both the sales team and conference-services team are trained to partner with their meeting clients on maximizing the value gained from a particular conference or event. "We are proactive from the outset, asking clients what their specific objectives are for the meeting," say Chris Long, director of group sales, Midwest, for KIGR. "Based on their answers, we then show them how our different formal and informal meeting spaces can meet their needs."
For instance, many smaller meeting groups choose to use The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, the upscale 255-room oceanfront hotel that's part of KIGR. "They tend to be very business-focused, with almost no time set aside for teambuilding or leisure other than perhaps a memorable dinner." Long notes. "For such groups, we offer the more secluded meeting space at the hotel, including the boardroom."
A 22-seat, permanently configured room with its own private foyer, the Calhoun boardroom is perfect for serious strategy sessions requiring flexibility so as to not interrupt productive discussions. And with that private foyer, the group can take its refreshment breaks whenever it is convenient, rather than at a scheduled time; the break setup can be done by the conference services staff on short notice.
For other types of meetings and events, Long commonly sees a mix of objectives. On the whole, "groups want strong learning atmospheres, but then they also want deep bonding experiences that encourage attendees to interact with and learn from each other not just at the meeting, but all year long."
For such groups, there's a real advantage to being at a facility such as KIGR. The resort — offering 448 villas ranging from one to four bedrooms in addition to the hotel-room inventory at The Sanctuary — provides effective spaces with pleasant atmospheres for formal learning, including the 7,000-s.f. East Beach Conference Center, as well as sizable meeting spaces at four of its golf-course clubhouses. To add impact to a formal learning session, "we will move a breakout session outdoors to a lawn space, or even make it a fireside chat," says Long. "We know the potential uses of all our spaces, so we can present planners with options that boost the return on a particular session."
Futhermore, the resort has areas dedicated to promoting informal knowledge-sharing plus team building, all of which adds to a meeting's value. For instance, at the Mingo Point riverside recreational area, "We will create a tented barbecue event with beautiful sunset views and fun activities so that attendees get to know each other on a deeper level, while feeling rewarded by the organization." Long says.
And then there are KIGR's golf facilities, which are perfect for receptions where golfers and non-golfers alike can mingle and engage in putting contests or other mildly competitive games. And of course, a group can take over one of the five golf courses for a memorable round of competitive golf in the Carolina Lowcountry.
In all KIGR's conference sales and services people understand through experience how to help planners deliver the most value for any type of meeting or event that comes to the resort.