The meetings industry is growing year-over-year and demand for actionable, concise and accurate information is accelerating at an even faster pace.
NB: This Q&A with Ross Hosking, president of Meetings.com, appears here as part of Tnooz's sponsored content initiative.
According to the US Travel Association’s most recent Travel Trend Index (TTI), the outlook is improving for business and meetings travel. Since the demands on event planners continue to increase, planners and hotels need to adopt technology to increase productivity and meet continually higher expectations.
Ross Hosking, president of Meetings.com, recently shared insights into the company’s latest membership packaging, meetings technology and services impacting the meetings industry.
Tell me how Meetings.com is going to help planners, organizations and hotels meet the ever-increasing demands and service expectations?
Meetings.com has come up with a comprehensive technology and service offering that is now available for corporations, associations, and meeting planners to streamline their work flow. The service is designed to provide corporate planners and event sourcing specialists with leading edge technology to secure the best options for their meeting or event.
The biggest news is that the company has a comprehensive offering to work with organizations that send net/non-commissionable groups to the hotels.
Our brands sourced more than $5 billion in groups/events in 2016 for hotels and other venues.
Adding this service offering is part of our plan to source $30 billion in group/event RFPs by 2020.
What technology will be part of the service?
A new feature of the Meetings.com program is that we have rate protection for group stays. We guarantee the rates that are quoted to meeting planners are lower than any individual rates anywhere else.
Our system checks rates immediately and then continues to check rates on an ongoing basis leading up to the event to make sure that the venue hasn’t lowered their rates over the requested dates.
If lowered, we notify the hotel and the event planner about the pricing changes. This way the planner and the hotel can react to meet the changing marketplace demands.
How do you help planners find the right hotel at the right rate from the start of the process?
Meetings.com has a vast proprietary database of demand for virtually every hotel and market, and this includes demand for meeting space. Our database allows us to provide city reports including not only past pricing statistics but also future forecasts for meeting planners to use in their negotiations and identify the right destination and hotel product up front.
Attrition and pick up can be a huge issue with event planners. How can Meetings.com help planners in this area?
Firstly, our ongoing price checker is going to help our clients and the hotels maximize their pick-up/commitments.
Next, we now offer an “Attrition Protection” system that allows a group coordinator the ability to quickly place their unsold rooms up for sale through our global distribution channels. We will work closely with the hotel and the client throughout the entire process so that attrition penalties can be eliminated or greatly minimized; plus, hotels can re-sell rooms, and most importantly, protect their ADR.
Due to our channel management and distribution technology we’re in a great position to help the client and the hotel address this problem.
Corporate clients tell us that they expect more destination expertise from their planners. Does Meetings.com have a way to help in this area?
A big advantage we bring to the market is that we have a large staff of event planning consultants in every major market with local knowledge that will help the meeting planner or event organizer with recommendations and contract negotiations.
Let’s go back to group reservations and housing . Once the venue is secured, how can Meetings.com help with the housing?
This is another exciting part of the Meetings.com membership package. Once the group block is set up, all reservations can be made online within the block at the negotiated rate which includes an instant confirmation delivered online and via email/text.
In addition, our latest technology, Book-in-Block, allows planners to upload rooming lists directly into the block without the tedious process of manually sending email lists. This technology enters reservations into the hotel’s property management system and provides an instant confirmation back to the meeting planner.
What are the additional benefits of becoming a member?
The key to what Meetings.com is offering is that it covers everything from sourcing technology, rate management, backend reporting and professional services, plus it’s customizable for every single meeting planner or any organization’s needs.
For example, our RFP tool translates into 27 languages and 98 currencies. We also have an e-contracting system that will officially use the latest electronic signature technology so that all contracts can be stored securely in the system for the hotel and the event planner.
Our technology is responsive which means it works on any platform from desktop to phone.
You mentioned membership packaging. Tell us more about that.
Our Meetings.com membership has multiple options that can be tailored specifically to each meeting planner or event organizer to get the custom products they need at the most economical price. In the end, these products are all built and deployed for customers within minutes.
How can an event planner or travel agent get started today?
To get started is easy. Click here for more details.
NB: This Q&A appears here as part of Tnooz's sponsored content initiative.
NB2: Image by monkeybusinessimages/BigStock