Some of the hot hospitality news for planners discussed at Marriott's Insurance & Financial Services Forum in May:

  • Online bookings

    Marriott is in the thick of its “consolidated inventory” project. This means that sometime in 2008 you may be able to log on to a password-protected site and check meeting space and group room inventory live, chainwide. In the short term, pointed out Dave Townshend, senior vice president, Marriott International, by the end of this year planners will be able to check availability for small programs and book up to 20 rooms online.

  • All-inclusives on the horizon

    Another trend, noted Mike Beardsley, vice president, Renaissance Hotels and Resorts, is increasing interest in complete meeting packages such as those used at conference centers. Marriott is looking to respond to this interest by buying a company already in the all-inclusive resort market.

  • Chat with the boss

    If you've never read Bill Marriott's blog, take a minute to check it out at The posts are the real deal, and it's fascinating to see a guy who has been around such a long time embracing this new way of relating to customers — plenty of whom talk back, mostly with cheerful remembrances but often with thoughtful suggestions. (He says he reads them all!)

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