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by Michael Shapiro | February 24, 2012

 I took a look at the latest Zentila demo last week, and I wanted to report back with some details and a couple of changes. (See the previous post, "Short-Term Booking and Online RFPs: A Conversation with Zentila's Mike Mason.")
 
First, the changes: Zentila's inventory of meetings hotels is now hovering around 1,900 U.S. properties. Also, planners now have a bit more time to consider the bids offered by hotels. Booking decisions must be made within 48 hours after receiving the bids, not 24, as was previously the case.
 
As for the user experience, the interface has been cleaned up a bit so that everything looks neat and pretty. I think planners would find it very intuitive -- although potentially frustrating if they're trying to force specific points from their established RFPs into Zentila's streamlined RFP Genie. But there is some flexibility in the process to fine-tune meeting needs.
 
As for the new "unveil" feature, planners must agree to some whimsically worded terms before seeing the names of the participating hotels; essentially, they must promise to be actual planners who are actually intent on booking a meeting. In response to clicking on the question "What happens if I reveal and don't book?" one sees the following:
 
"We've built our unique buying process to ensure that our hotels jump when they receive your meeting request (RFP). By adding this step, our hotels know you're serious and ready to buy, and not just shopping around.
 
"In order to maintain the integrity of Zentila for all members, if we find anyone consistently 'revealing' and not booking, regrettably we'll need to suspend their activity."
 
So there you have it: Those who abuse the system will be booted. Zentila CEO Mike Mason doesn't expect that many people will use the platform for frivolous or nefarious purposes, but only time will tell if Zentila users are essentially Good People. As for enhanced functionality for the hotels that offer bids through the platform, that should go live in the next week; I don't have the details on that, but the new features will allow hotels a bit more flexibility in how they present their bids.