“We’re experiencing a simultaneous
clashing and blending of technologies,” says meetings tech expert
Rodman Marymor, in reference to the online travel agencies’ foray
into group business.
As more corporations reap the benefits of booking travel
online, many are looking to the next frontier of
automation. For some, that logical next step is to extend their
web-based tools to meetings.
“Companies right now are trying to get their arms around how
much is actually being spent on meetings, because it’s so
fragmented and decentralized,” says Susan Steinbrink, travel
analyst for Stamford, Conn.-based PhoCusWright, a
travel/hospitality research and consulting firm.
“As corporate online booking tools and online travel agencies
make headway into corporate travel, you’re going to see greater
penetration of those services in meetings,” Steinbrink adds.
According to the PhoCusWright/National Business Travel
Association Technology Survey (released in July 2003), 73 percent
of the 206 travel managers who responded planned to be using online
meeting tools by 2005.
“One of our priorities this year is to integrate booking
technology into our meetings program,” says Tracey Wilt, supplier
manager of travel, meetings and incentives at Rochester, N.Y.-based
Xerox Corp. Wilt also is co-chair of NBTA’s Groups and Meetings
This past spring, the committee released a white paper titled,
“Framework for Success: Building a Strategic Meetings Management
Program,” which specifically looks at harnessing meetings spend for
possible inclusion in the corporate travel program. “We believe
technology is an essential part of the process,” says Wilt.