(The MPP process discussed below is the parent company, GuideStar's, precursor to MeetingMetrics.)
"The main reasons we initially decided to use the Meeting Productivity Process for our National Sales Meeting were that we were interested in researching and measuring our attendees' pre-conference morale levels and learning more about their training needs and the general issues that were affecting the group. Our plan was to use that information to determine the direction and theme of the meeting, and we wanted to measure the impact that the conference experience had on our people.
"We believe our conference attendees are customers of the conference experience, and we try to identify and satisfy their needs as much as possible.
"The production company proposed what appeared to be a very good system, the MPP. It had some different elements. The convenience of the 800# tele-survey gave our people the ability to call in 24 hours a day, and the information was collected electronically, so it could be done quickly. Also the special meeting measures and research techniques and the amount of ways you can turn the information were very attractive. The reports gave us a lot of opportunities to look at different facets of the information.
"We received value from the process in a number of ways. One is that we were able to confirm our thoughts about the levels of people's feelings in the field. We wanted to know what the morale level was, what people were feeling about their job, the company, the marketplace, that sort of thing. The research pointed out, in some cases, some issues that were a bit hotter than we thought and gave us the opportunity to address those things in the meeting.
"You can sit here at headquarters and say 'I think I know what they really want or what they're like or what the issues are out there', but if you don't go out and confirm that you do know, you could run into a problem. I think the confirmation of our feelings and impressions and what we thought was our knowledge of what was going on was very important. The MPP gave us an idea of which issues were the major issues from the attendees' point of view, which ones were really hot and which ones were not.
"The second thing was learning about the levels of training, or levels of sophistication, people were at so that we could say that there is a large group of people who had a very elementary level of education or knowledge of our business or products and services, and that there's another group that is more sophisticated. That helped us gear the workshops and the other things that we did for particular groups of attendees.
"Third, it helped us figure out what the theme and direction of the meeting ought to be. Having the information gave us a better definition of people's needs and expectations for the meeting.
"And fourth was the measurement of the impact that all our work, prior to the conference and at the conference, had on the attendees.
"Another important value we see in using the process is as a measure of return on our investment in the National Conference. With the MPP, we know with certainty that the conference will be focused on satisfying the key needs of our 'customers'. It ensures we get maximum impact for our investment.
"For the most part, the meetings achieved the objectives we set out for them. We started out with three objectives. One was reward and recognition and I think we met that objective.
"Another objective was educational. The process was really helpful in terms of determining the content of the workshops, the types of products and services we needed to address and on which to further educate our people.
"Our third objective was the social atmosphere. The process helped us figure out the theme of the meeting and how much social activity people needed and whether it should be more of a pure team building experience or more of a pure social event.
"I think the real value of using the MPP in both years was that after looking at the first year's post-meeting survey findings, we could see whether or not we moved the needle in certain areas, and the data gave us a benchmark to use as a gauge for the next year's meeting.
"When we looked from year one to year two, we saw what the levels were after the year one meeting and what the levels were pre-conference in year two. We had an idea what business issues impacted those levels, so when we went to the field to survey pre-conference in year two and asked the field, 'what are your issues?'. Again the process confirmed some of the things we knew, and it really told us a couple of other things too in terms of the depth of people's feelings. It gave us a clear picture of where people were at.
"Post-conference, the MPP tells us what we did right and what we did wrong in the meeting and what people will look for in the next meeting - that's very important information.
"I would definitely recommend the process. I think that anybody who goes into a meeting like this and doesn't do a pre-conference survey to either confirm or identify issues and a post-conference survey to see whether or not what you did really had an impact on people and was effective, I think you're kind of wasting your time - you're flying somewhat blind.
"We absolutely would use the process again. We used it in year one and we were very happy with it. We used it again in year two and we were just as happy with it. And I look forward, quite frankly, to the possibility of using it again."