Measuring Return On Virtual Meetings

Has your organization staged a virtual meeting in the past year? What's more, has your company bought or leased collaboration/virtual meetings tech. More importantly, are you managing the strategy, policy creation and compliance tracking for all virtual meetings technologies as part of your travel and meetings portfolio?
Well, now we know that more than 42 percent own or lease this type of technology--for example, Hewlett Packard's Halo and Cisco's TelePresence systems (which represent the high end, pricier technology). That's according to a new white paper produced by Content Solutions and commissioned by GetThere, Sabre Travel Network and Travelocity Business. Meetings tech is just one of the areas the survey addresses, and it's based on the views of over 200 professionals who are directly involved in managing corporate travel policies and budgets--everyone from CFOs to CPOs to travel managers.

I actually saw a presentation based on these findings when I was in Prague for the ACTE educational conference this fall, and I've been itching to write about it since. The white paper adds that "a confluence of factors, including lower cost of entry and pressure from executives to reduce travel, allowed many companies to invest in technologies that once seemed too specialized." Yet, the survey finds that more than half polled hadn't yet invested in virtual meetings tools, many citing the expense or "not enough travel to justify the expense."

Interestingly, nearly 20 percent said that the tools' effectiveness versus "meeting face-to-face is unproven." That could be partly due to the fact that a full 40 percent who do use these tools either don't know if their firms are measuring ROI or that their companies are not measuring.

As I've said in this blog before, virtual meetings, such as the high-def, life-size and realistic-type made possible by HP or Cisco, have their place in the wide world of meetings (alongside face-to-face events). 

But like every kind of event, virtual meetings need to be measured and reported for ROI--as part of a good strategic meetings management program. You need to know the value of your meetings (especially these days, when so many have to justify their jobs to senior executives).

But I'm wondering if most companies even know how to measure ROI for virtual events. Indeed, the whitepaper says it could be blamed on "a lack of support in the managed travel marketplace to help companies better understand strategic uses for these technologies and how to calculate their travel savings and/or revenue potential."

My advice: seek the knowledge of peers at professional organizations running virtual meetings, for example, NBTA and ACTE. Next time your attending an educational session, stand up and ask how others are measuring ROI for virtual events. If you’re a StarCite customer or potential customer, we have a Value Analysis process lead by a former CFO.  Reach out to us to assist you determine your program ROI.

The old adage of “you don’t know what you don’t know” doesn’t fly anymore in the business world; you need to know or risk job uncertainty.

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management