Inefficient, inaccurate, and costly: That may be the best way to describe communications between meeting professionals and hotels, say leaders at the Convention Industry Council, Alexandria, Va. To find out exactly what’s going on, the meetings industry umbrella organization has commissioned a study on the exchange of event specifications between hotels and planners—banquet event orders, room setup orders, and all other communications during the meeting planning process.
“We think this is a multimillion-dollar problem annually,” said Kimberley Meyer, founder and principal of Chicago-based Meetings Analytics and chairwoman of the CIC Technology Advisory Council, in a press release. “Despite all of our technical advances, this is largely still a manual, paper, e-mail, and even fax-based process, with a high level of input and rekeying. Even though they’re widely accepted, these business processes are inefficient and inaccurate.” Not only is it time-intensive, but there are also costs associated with mistakes.
CIC has tapped researchers at the Dick Pope Sr. Institute for Tourism Studies at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fla., to conduct the study. Researchers will gather data from the convention services departments at four supporting chains: Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Marriott International, Gaylord Hotels, and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The study will analyze business processes, including sales, the planning cycle, and the delivery of the final product.
While researchers are looking at it from the hotel side, they will also examine how information comes in from planners. They will report on processes and costs for a variety of meeting types, including corporate events and meetings,, private social functions, and citywide events.
The study, expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2011, will report on current business practices, but won’t offer solutions or alternatives, says Lawrence Leonard, CMP, APEX program director at the CIC. “We think the findings might provide a useful reference point for the industry to start having some further discussions and engage in some dialogue about how we tackle it if it turns out to be the problem that we think it is,” he says.