Bookings in the conference market – fast change guaranteed!
On February 2, 2016, at the German Hotel Congress, I will moderate a proper MICE Elephant Round in my capacity as editor of the conference. Meetago, MICE Portal, and Expedia are discussing with me and asking whether the customers will switch from the inquiry offer process to real – time online booking. It would be too brief to just complain about the growing power of MICE OTA. On the contrary, meeting hotels and venues have an urgent need for renewal in this area, even if they perhaps do not even notice it.
Almost 20 years of standstill have shaped the search, offer, and booking process in the conference area. In dark chambers, the partial still sit as ‘banqueting staff’ titled experts and fight themselves by a growing number of day requests.
Although these were clusters in “large and important” or “small and insignificant”, in my experience in many conference hotels all requests for the “Schema F” are processed. If at least one new request is recorded in Opera or Protel, at least the data of the requester is secured. The recording of all the details from which an offer can be generated quickly takes 15 – 20 minutes per request, but the interview , which is usually omitted anyway, is not included yet. Consulting, explaining new formats and possibilities, or just finding out what the customer really wants to do with us, is mostly unresolved in the mud of the data masses. In most companies, Word and Excel are the most important tools for data maintenance and offer creation, and the data flow goes down to billing.
A few major customers (such as Telekom, Axa, Deutsche Bahn or Abbott) have effortlessly defined procurement processes “from the cost centre to the hotel bed” with the help of a few MICE software providers. Not from the point of view of the customer or provider. No matter if the controlling is now sexy or not.
The providers of so – called RFP processes (Request for proposal) have simplified the situation on one hand, instead of the Word document, only a few clicks on the offer server of the portal have to be set. Of course, the option must also be entered in the hotel software and all too often a reservation book. This is the daily offer reality in times when big data, beacons, and digitization are spoken!
Now comes movement in the market! With the Expedia Meeting Market, there is not a new MICE OTA. Expedia Meeting does not want to be an online travel agent in the MICE market, but rather a technology provider that re-organizes the decision-making and buying processes in the ‘bread & butter’ segment of the meeting market.
The market figures are aptly disputed. Are there only 100,000 event planners in Germany, who quickly want to space, snack and beamer or are they 200,000? Will the volume producers remain in the RFP world or, as in the flight and business sector, prefer the smooth check-through? Surely there are enough event schedulers, which no longer with Excel table and pocket calculator the total price comparison for a 2.000 € event (I belong by the way).
How to get availability and price information for Expedia Meeting Market?
Interfaces to Opera, Suite, and Protel are partly finished or in progress and so the room area has for years tried. This would link the professionally working conference hotel industry and the page for the booking. My review shows that it was thought through very well. The fact that the practice will show further requirements is no surprise.
And what happens next?
“Anyone (for example, any meeting facilitator), who is fed up with the old inquiry and offer processes can use this technology developed by Expedia. It will be exciting to see which of the small and big MICE OTA will not miss this opportunity.
It is therefore to be expected that the change to online real-time is accomplished much more quickly than is now estimated by many experts. And this also shows that hotel chains and individual hotels have to be aware of the consequences.
Less work and more advice in the meeting sales departments would be desirable.
But also securing the direct booking MICE customer, in order to avoid even stronger dependencies. The investment in a MICE booking software is essential.
I look forward to your opinion. Use the comment function or you can send a short mail, then we can discuss your situation maybe at the ITB in Berlin.