by Tom Isler | August 01, 2008

IllustrationAfter years of talk about measuring return on investment and determining the value of meetings, web tools have emerged to help planners actually figure it out.

The ROI Toolkit (, which debuted earlier this year, is a joint effort of Red Bank, N.J.-based Exhibit Surveys and multiple industry associations. The free site helps planners determine whether to participate in a show and at what level of investment, based on key attributes (number of qualified attendees or how many attendees the booth staff will encounter per hour, for example). It’ll even show how to optimize ROI, whether by changing the size of the booth or the number of staff needed to populate it., which launches later this month, is a subscription-based site that lets planners speak the language of hotel revenue managers, calculating exactly what a meeting is worth to the hotel and breaking out handy metrics like total revenue per occupied room (RevPOR) and revenue per occupied space time (RevPOST), which, if leveraged correctly, could aid contract negotiations tremendously. On the site, planners create templates with custom data fields that reflect every budget item for the meeting. They can compare costs at up to five hotels at once, including attrition at various cut-off dates set in the contract. (For hotel salespeople, there’s a separate section of Meeting Trader that computes profit margins.)

These sites represent a tactical step forward: Already aware of the utility of the calculations, planners now can do the math.