by Alex Palmer | June 01, 2016
SaaS venue-sourcing company Zentila has been acquired by event-management software firm etouches, the companies announced today. According to both Zentila and etouches, the acquisition will provide customers with a more complete selection and booking solution, enhancing planners' ability to not only handle RFPs, but manage every step of sourcing a meeting.
"The market is getting a state-of-the-art solution set from two reputable, best-in-class companies," Oni Chukwu, CEO of etouches, told Successful Meetings. "We lead our market in event management software and Zentila leads in venue sourcing and booking, and both of us are coming together."

Combined with etouches' recent acquisition of venue-sourcing platform Inevention, Chukwu said that Zentila "completes the circle for us," allowing it to "significantly extend" the ways it can serve customers in the venue-sourcing process. etouches will tap into Zentila's features, such as aggregating proposals in an interactive bid summary, allowing hotels to customize online advertising, and offering special features for third-party planners.

"This is full end-to-end, full-featured for planners to manage their events and comprehensively do their sourcing, booking, and the rest of that," said Chukwu. 

Chukwu described the acquisition as positioning etouches and Zentila to be "the alternative in the market to the Cvent and Lanyon combination because we are the only ones truly of scale that satisfies the needs of the market." But while the Zentila acquisition comes just weeks after Lanyon owner Vista Equity Partners announced its acquisition of event management provider Cvent, Chukwu emphasized that the timing was "fortuitous" rather than a reaction to the shifts taking place in the market. Zentila has been a partner of etouches for years, and the two began discussing a potential acquisition almost a year ago. 

"This wasn't something that happened overnight," said Chukwu. "For a long time, the market has been yearning for an alternative -- something that is fresh, that is charting a new path, especially in innovation."

Zentila's founder and current CEO, Mike Mason, described the acquisition as "100 percent additive," expanding the offerings of both companies to their current customers.

"The acquisition turbocharges everything for us," said Mason. "A lot of our customers need additional solutions that etouches offers. It's a suite of incredible technologies that will make their lives easier. For many of them, it's exactly what they're looking for."

Mason will join the etouches executive team as vice president, sourcing and hospitality solutions, leading the company's expanded efforts into venue and strategic sourcing. 

"We already have a lot of people in venue sourcing at etouches who will be under Mike and we are adding some more," said Chukwu, adding that etouches' salesforce throughout the world at five office locations will be carrying the venue-sourcing platform. "We are ready and loaded."

The two have begun integrating their teams and expect to be ready to market by July, continuing to more fully integrate in subsequent months. 

Looking ahead, Mason said he expected that together Zentila and etouches would grow their offerings to more deeply meet the needs of meeting planners. In particular, he expects to see growth in technology that facilitates the actual process of sourcing and booking, pointing to Zentila's recently launched Negotiation Engine, which tracks and stores negotiations automatically.

"The RFP is really just 10 percent of the process," said Mason. "The other 90 percent involves communicating to the meeting owner, communicating to the hotel, capturing all the back-and-forth. As we look down the road over the next year or two years, it will be on completing that process, making sure we've captured all the elements that occur over the entire booking process. That's where our customers are asking us to go and where we know we need to go."