Online travel booking company Expedia has jumped into the events booking arena and claims faster turnaround times for small-to-medium meetings. The company rolled out a white-label back-end meetings and events booking engine in Germany, and says that initial tests show a decrease in average RPF response times from five hours to 14 minutes from initial request to the quote being sent. Select hotels in the U.S. will soon be offering the tool, part of the company’s Expedia Powered Technology toolkit.
The labor-intensive manual process through which most smaller meetings and events are often currently booked is ripe for disruption, according to a statement from Expedia. And, since meetings of fewer than 25 people make up the bulk of the events held, those smaller meetings represent a hefty chunk of the 40 percent of business travel attributed to the meetings, incentive, convention, and exposition industry.
“MICE is a massive market and growing opportunity for hotels, but there has never been a scalable or effective solution for hotels to manage and grow meetings and events revenue and bookings online,” says Felix Undeutsch, head of MICE, the Expedia group. “Our MICE technology solution was designed specifically to address a pain point for our hotel partners, as well as automate a traditionally frustrating process for meeting planners.”
Expedia’s product is designed to enable planners to search, price, configure, and book meeting space online, as well as audiovisual equipment, catering, and guest rooms. The Expedia MICE booking engine also includes integrated revenue management tools that can synch with the hotel’s property management system, so the hotel can adjust its group pricing dynamically based on factors such as seasonality, the day of the week, room type, and number of participants. The idea is that automating the group planning and booking process for smaller meetings will free up hotel sales managers to focus on higher margin RFPs and maximizing revenues.
The technology is now being made available to wider group of hotel chains and independent hotels throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the U.S.