"It happens every day: Hotels need to fill rooms, meeting planners need some space, period, end of story," says Jim Etkin, president of the latest meeting auction site to hit the Internet, MpBid.com (www.mpbid.com). The site, launched in April, goes up against Event-Source.com (www.eventsource.com) and StarCite.com (www.starcite.com), which include auction capabilities among their meeting management services.
Essentially a site selection expeditor, MpBid.com, Pembroke Park, Fla., offers two blind auction options: Meeting planners can post their specs online, or hotels can put their room nights up for bid. A registered user on either side of the fence creates a general RFP, which is posted to the MpBid.com site and then matched with specs posted by other registered users, who are simultaneously alerted to a match. They can then decide whether to enter a bid on that space or event.
MpBid.com auctions have two-, four-, and six-day expirations, compared to those of its competitors that last just minutes or hours. The company's revenue comes from a 10 percent commission on offers that result in a hotel booking. Hotels can also post cancelled room nights, but are charged a 50 percent commission. -- Anna Chinappi