Small Meetings White Paper Released

HEDNA, the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association, in partnership with travel industry research company PhoCusWright Inc., announced the publication of a white paper entitled, "Enabling the Online Marketplace for Meetings: A Toolkit."

The report, published with supporting data from PhoCusWright's research, is a guide to the current state of technology in the rapidly evolving group online marketplace and to understanding the current opportunities and challenges that exist. The Toolkit helps hotels and others assess readiness for deployment of an online group marketing strategy offering real-time booking of meeting facilities, simple catering, audiovisual equipment and group rooms. It also serves as a resource for planning an online booking solution for small groups and simple meetings of up to 75 attendees.

The paper is based on study by the HEDNA Group Online Committee, led by co-chairs John Arenas, CEO of Worktopia, and Scott Harness, co-founder and executive vice president of GTP Travel Group, HEDNA's Group Committee finds that the technology to enable online booking of meeting facilities and group room nights by hotels is now in place, although not yet in a single online session. The report describes the current balance of interests between customers' needs for visibility, control and access to preferred programs compared with hoteliers' needs to optimize revenue, and control distribution of availability of guest rooms and meeting space.

More than two-thirds of U.S. corporate meetings have 50 or fewer attendees, according to PhoCusWright research. With the technology available today, meeting planners can already book meeting space, group room nights and manage attendees in real time. The new white paper examines the question of how fast the online migration will take place and how the balance of interests among corporate and leisure group meeting planners, travel distribution systems and hotels will evolve.