Convention Centers and Hotels Use Technology to Help Meeting Planners
Different venue spaces are taking advantage of technology to make it easier for meeting planners to complete some of their most important yet time-consuming tasks.
We all know a meeting planner’s job isn’t limited to just the meeting. There’s site selection that often happens years before the meeting and then the billing process after. To help ease some stress for meeting planners along the way, convention centers and hotels are making the most of technology.
For example, earlier this week Hyatt Hotels & Resorts launched its Group Bill technology, which is a real-time billing and tracking system. Planners can track and reconcile meeting costs from their own computers through an interactive PDF. The costs available in real-time include everything from room charges to food and beverage and audiovisual services. Planners can even drill down to specific event sections and individual attendees.
According to an article about the launch on SuccessfulMeetings.com, “the system automatically imports data from the signed contract, and checks those agreed-upon charges against those input at the time of the event, automatically highlighting any charge that is higher or lower by 10 percent or more as a way to catch possible errors.” The data also can be imported into an Excel spreadsheet, so planners can format it in a way that works for their internal departments. It’s been rolled out at 95 of Hyatt’s 120 North American properties, with the rest scheduled to come on board by the end of the year.
On the site-selection front, convention centers and hotels are being responsive to planners’ needs. While Meeting Professionals International’s Business Barometer—Annual survey recently revealed that U.S. meeting planners expect a 15 to 20 percent increase in the number of facilities they’ll consider as they plan meetings in the coming year, they also are dealing with limited travel budgets and difficulty getting time away from the office. Enter the venue app: The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center’s myBCEC iPad app includes detailed photos and maps of the venue. While it will most likely not replace a standard site visit, it may help planners in their initial research phase. Same goes for hotels apps like the one from the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre or Hotel Lucia Portland where planners can check out venue photos and get detailed information about meetings space, including room layouts and catering menus.
The need and desire for these technologies will no doubt continue to grow as meeting planners move further away from printed bills and logistics spreadsheets. For all you meeting planners out there, what technology do you find most helpful in doing your job? Or, better yet, what technology would you like to see developed to make your job easier?