Successful Meetings - February 2009 - (Page 26)

PLANNER’S WORKSHOP tech talk Trim costs and save time with meetings management technology Cutting Costs By Michael Goldstein t’s a new year, and there’s plenty of cold water for everyone. In a sign of the tough times, meeting planners report that destinations like Las Vegas are calling them. Cutting travel and meeting costs isn’t just necessary, it’s something most of us are committed to. “The theory that business travelers don’t care about costs because it’s not their money is a lie,” says travel expert Joe Brancatelli of “Everything spent on travel comes out of something, like a potential bonus.” I Automate or Die Meetings management technology has the potential to be a money-saving solution, bringing companies’ meeting programs online to better monitor costs and centralize operations. The technology can facilitate real-time booking, either through hotel websites or through third-party companies like StarCite and Worktopia. Their online tools allow meeting planners to check inventory of rooms and meeting space, order food and beverage service, and compare rates from several hotel brands. And although a planner’s company or organization has to buy the StarCite software, a company spokesperson claims their clients often see a 15 to 20 percent savings using the service. Worktopia works similarly; its partnership with Starwood Hotels provides real-time access to meeting rooms and guest room inventory in more than 60 Michael Goldstein is a freelance writer specializing in technology. He can be reached at 26 I SM I February 2009 I Illustration Credit: Chad Crowe North American properties. Worktopia estimates an average savings of roughly 20 percent for its clients. Marriott International offers QuickGroup, a site designed to allow planners to save time by getting into an individual hotel’s property management system to book up to 25 guest rooms and request meeting room space online. So far Marriott is going it alone, avoiding the additional fees and commission that working with one of the third parties would entail. Similarly, Hilton started offering eEvents in 2005, which lets meeting planners book five to 25 guest rooms and meeting space without an RFP, order food and beverage service, and view and manage a meeting attendee list online. Hilton has since become one of StarCite’s hotel partners. The speed and power of these solutions is impressive, and the thought of outsourcing the nuts-and-bolts of meetings logistics is undeniably appealing. Yet many planners still prefer to work with a human being, rather than a website. After all, your meeting’s success is riding on you. Don’t you deserve a little old-fashioned hand-holding? SM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - February 2009

Successful Meetings - February 2009
Editor's Letter
News Update: Meetings Associations Band Together
Planner Spotlight
Technology Talk
Food & Beverage
Making Cents of It All
Meanwhile, Back at Headquarters
Seal of Approval
Come Sail Away
Making Tracks
Places & Spaces
Florida’s East Coast
3 Days in Philadelphia

Successful Meetings - February 2009