The two major U.S. political parties have selected housing partners for the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions.
Travel Planners Inc., New York, was selected to handle housing for the Republican National Convention, which will be held in New York City August 30 to September 2. Passkey International Inc., Quincy, Mass., was tapped as the housing partner for the Democratic National Convention, slated for Boston July 26 to 29.
Travel Planners will provide housing registration services for the 50,000 delegates, media, and guests who will converge upon Manhattan in late August. The conventioneers will fill about 18,000 rooms across 50 different hotels, says Ray Vastola, president of Travel Planners. Total room nights are expected to be 100,000 for the event.
“We’re really proud to have the opportunity to participate in this,” says Vastola. “It’s something that’s very important to the country as well as something that’s extremely high value to New York City.”
Handling the complex housing demands of the RNC requires a combination of “high-tech and high-touch,” says Vastola. On the technology side, Travel Planners has the “bandwidth” to accommodate the sheer volume of bookings, says Vastola, through its proprietary booking software. It also has the flexibility to handle the unique requests that will undoubtedly come from 55 different delegations. The room assignments are done by the RNC’s Committee on Arrangements, and then passed on to Travel Planners to handle the bookings with the various delegations and hotels.
“They are a New York–based organization that offered the best goods and services for our delegates,” says Rori Patrise Smith, RNC spokeswoman.
Vastola doesn’t anticipate any-related issues. “It is so tightly controlled,” he says. “It’s not an open housing process.”
For the first time, a housing technology solution will be employed at the DNC, courtesy of Passkey, whose online reservation system should make life easier for planners as well as the 35,000 delegates, media, and guests who will take part in the convention. The DNC is not the biggest event that Passkey has worked, but it is certainly one of the most significant, says Greg Pesik, the company’s chief executive officer. “It’s a marquee event for us,” he says, “but our focus is on the success of the event for the DNC and the Greater Boston CVB.”
The convention is also one of the most complicated. Some 35,000 guests, representing 56 delegations, are staying at 63 different hotels (and three universities), filling 17,500 hotel rooms for a total of 109,000 room nights.
Passkey’s technology enables the conventioneers to book rooms online through a secure, customized, Web-based portal. Delegations can access their entire room list through the Passkey system, which makes it easier to manage room blocks and reduce attrition. “It’s a complex housing process that puts the technology through the paces it was developed to do,” says Pesik. “We’re honored to be providing the infrastructure,” and alleviating a major hassle for the DNC and the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, which runs the registration process.
The Passkey solution is a far cry from the 2000 DNC in Los Angeles, where reservations were made the old fashioned way—via paper and fax machine.