Starwood Debuts New Electronic Meeting Planning Tool

Earlier this month at the IMEX America trade show in Las Vegas, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced the launch of its newest technology platform — eVent Portfolio — a web-based application that makes it easier for meeting and incentive planners to coordinate their events at Starwood properties throughout North America.

The new technology, which was tested out at 14 Starwood properties this year, will soon roll out to more than 575 Starwood properties in North America by 2014. It is available in nine different languages, and can also be accessed anywhere at any time by all involved meeting/incentive parties via PC, Mac, laptop, or mobile device. 

“This is a web-based tool that lets event planning be completely mobile,” Mark Theis, Starwood’s director of group sales for North America, explained at IMEX America. “It replaces emails and paper-based planning.” Theis said that the new eVent Portfolio was created to be both user-friendly and to also provide planners with electronic diagrams that can be used to “see meeting space and conceptually set it up for any of our hotels in North America.”

The new tool encourages collaboration among meeting and incentive program stakeholders and planners by integrating existing forms/process, information sources, and document uploads. Highlights of the new eVent Portfolio include a newsfeed of ongoing events, tools and links to eMenus, A/V, and other on-site resources, as well as an eVent 911 feature that gives planners instant access to on-site staff to help with immediate requests. The technology platform also tracks all conversations and documents related to each meeting or program.

“This is offered at no charge to planners, and they can use this for all of their meetings that they have at any Starwood property in North America,” added Dave Dvorak, vice president of catering and event management for Starwood. He also clarified that the new tool was “not an app, per se, but a tool that you can use from a variety of platforms.”

Dvorak also noted that the eVent 911 feature is activated three days before each event, and acts as an instant text message to the on-site convention services manager. 

Keeping in line with Starwood’s company-wide commitment to sustainability, Dvorak also said that the new eVent Portfolio will help planners track just how much paper, energy, and waste that their meeting saves with a special sustainability tab. “The whole idea of this is really about sustainability, too,” Dvorak added. “There’s no more need for a big binder, and we’ll even lend planners a tablet if they need one, too.”