Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio March
Back to Basics
By Sarah J.F. Braley
THE ONLINE SITE SEARCH
These Web sites are designed to help planners find the
perfect venue often at no cost
Stocked with meeting-space specs, pictures, rates and more, the
Web is a smart place to start the site selection process. The
following list covers the most popular services, listed in
descending order by the number of hotels in the database.
The granddaddy of the group is MPoint by Twinsburg, Ohio-based
PlanSoft (www.mpoint.com). The company began in the mid-’90s,
backed by several industry giants.
Number of hotels: 38,000 (more than 11,000
properties are international)
Number of suppliers (such as off-site facilities, A/V
vendors, CVBs and entertainment): 35,000
Request for proposal process: The service is
free to planners. If PlanSoft handles the RFP, it receives a
commission from the supplier for placing the business.
Organizations that plan a number of events each year can buy
PlanSoft’s Meetings Management Solution service. With this package,
the organization’s preferred hotels can be tagged so the planner
sees them first (or only) during the search.
RFP response time: Generally, someone will
respond within 48 hours or as specified by the planner.
Formerly called Eventsource, ProcurePoint (www.procurepoint.com), another full- service meetings
management site, is still headed up by two former Hyatt executives,
Pat Foley and Ed Sarraille.
RFP process: Once a planner fills out the RFP
and chooses properties, the form is sent to a ProcurePoint account
manager, who contacts the planner to discuss negotiation options.
ProcurePoint offers two processes: closed-bid negotiations and
open-bid reverse auctions.
The process is free for planners using the Meetings LT product;
ProcurePoint receives a commission from the hotels for the service.
Organizations that purchase the firm’s Enterprise Meetings package
are charged a licensing fee for the software and a commission or
transaction fee for the RFP service. RFP response time: With
closed-bid RFPs, the company aims for a 48-hour turnaround time.
For reverse auctions, hotels typically are given one to two weeks’
The Official Meeting Facilities Guide, a sister publication to
Meetings & Conventions, offers hotel information and basic RFP
services at its Web site, www.omfg.com.
RFP process: Properties that have supplied an
e-mail address to which proposals can be sent also offer a link for
planners The service is free, and OMFG does not receive any form of
payment for successful transactions.
RFP response time: OMFG does not guarantee any
response, as the RFP goes directly to the property and is not
monitored by the site.
Site selection isn’t the focus of Philadelphia-based StarCite’s
meetings management Web site (www.starcite.com), but a planner certainly could
use it for that purpose.
RFP process: Planners send RFPs to the
suppliers of their choosing; StarCite does not intervene in any
way. Planners can send an RFP to the facility directly or to a
national representative. Users also can create up to 20 Quick Pick
lists and send RFPs to any or all of the members. For instance,
they might compile a list of favorite national salespeople, or a
list of properties in a particular destination. All of this is
As with MPoint, StarCite sells a corporate suite of meetings
management tools that includes the ability for users to see
preferred properties and contacts.
RFP response time: “As the channel, we do not
guarantee a response time,” says David Marks, vice president of the
online marketplace and supplier technology sales.
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