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by Michael Shapiro | July 23, 2010

Cvent debuted a new look and more features this week for its Cvent Supplier Network, the company's free hotel and event venue sourcing platform. The interface looks sharper, but in addition to that a bevy of tweaks have been made to streamline the search process. Before (or after) entering geographical search criteria, planners can select from among tabs for hotels, special event venues, restaurants, services or all venues. A wide variety of filters (city, chain, venue type, largest room, etc.) run down the left-hand side of the page, and snappily update search results when selected. And another nice new touch: When a venue is selected, its "key highlights" (venue type, brand, distance from airport, number of sleep and meeting rooms, meeting space) remain displayed at the top of the page even while planners can browse for more detail among the tabs underneath.

Cvent also rolled out new features, including a "quick RFP," which is an abbreviated version of the fairly detailed standard request for proposal, and a request for information, an even more abbreviated version, tailored for the smaller event venues and restaurants. More international search functionality is also built in, notably the ability to view meeting space areas in either square feet or square meters. Cvent executive vice president Chuck Ghoorah, in explaining his belief that the market is now completely ready to embrace eRFP platforms as the RFP medium of choice, has begun to use "Cvent" as a verb; whereas before planners may have faxed or e-mailed their requests for proposal, they now, he says, will "Cvent" them.

Whether or not our language changes as a result, the online search/eRFP submittal process is clearly becoming more robust. Cvent's update comes on the heels of some lodging site search improvements I've noticed of late -- such as the additional search parameters added by Embassy Suites and Marriott's new Innovention Network, the latter of which offering meetings site-selection and booking services for 60 of Marriott's largest meeting properties. While the Innovention Network aims to provide more than just site-search capabilities, I do especially like the pop-up regional search windows, and the way in which the filters for peak rooms, largest ballroom, total meeting space and golf or spa on site instantly pare down the property options as you click. Ideally, the increased convenience and speed of these new search tools will make your jobs a little bit easier.