by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | September 01, 2015

MARKETPLACE ALTERNATIVES


By Michael J. Shapiro

While the massive volume of eRFPs passing through the Cvent Supplier Network is without equal, other companies offer  solutions and services that compete with Cvent's. But only a few suppliers offer a similarly broad range of event technology.

Dallas-based Lanyon is the biggest, with a comprehensive meetings-management solution as well as hotel-focused technology. Lanyon has long provided hotels with tools to serve the independent business travel market. As of last year, the company was merged with Active Network Business Solutions, including its StarCite sourcing and strategic meetings-management platform; the combined Lanyon now offers visibility into complete hotel spend, including both group and transient, across its platform. Lanyon Meetings (formerly StarCite) boasts many large enterprise clients, among them more than 80 percent of the Fortune 100.

On a smaller scale in terms of volume, San Francisco-based Lenos Software and Boca Raton, Fla.-based Cendyn Arcaneo each offers a complete strategic meetings-management platform that includes venue sourcing. Chicago-based Eved, meanwhile, is a procurement-driven platform with a sourcing tool that includes a wide variety of event suppliers; Eved aims to facilitate reconciliation and back-end financial tasks.

The biggest players, Cvent and Lanyon, allow hotels to advertise, via marketing packages that favor them in venue search results. Orlando-based Zentila, a more specialized sourcing and booking solution, does not allow advertising, instead collecting a commission from hotels only when business is booked. That allows Zentila to offer more targeted search filters, which in turn lets planners source by factors such as last-renovated date, for example.

Zentila, which powers M&C's facility search at mcvenues.com, strives to make eRFPs more conducive to quick and efficient hotelier response by including details such as the number of competitors and a short-list date (the date by which meeting planners intend to narrow down the field to a few finalists). Such functionality has led to Zentila's reported 98 percent response rate from hoteliers and an average response time of less than six hours.

Hundreds of smaller companies offer event-tech tools that compete with portions of what the biggest companies offer, and many strive to provide integration with other tools. San Francisco-based Certain, for example, has recently partnered with Zentila to offer integration with Zentila's sourcing platform. Meanwhile, last month Norwalk, Conn.-based event-technology supplier etouches purchased hotel-sourcing platform Inevention, adding that element to its extensive meetings-tech toolbox.