Lanyon, which earlier this year merged with Active Network Business Solutions, which itself was formed in 2011 after Active Network acquired StarCite, announced this week it has acquired Passkey, the industry-leading group reservation technology platform. Sounds complicated, but the end result should be a simplification of meeting management, according to JR Sherman, president of Lanyon. (Ultimately all the names will be simplified, too, with everything rolling up into the Lanyon Smart Events Cloud this year.)

In the hundreds of hotel reservation systems with which it is integrated, Passkey provides a seamless link for planners, allowing them to set up event Web sites so attendees can book their hotel rooms within the group’s housing block and planners can get real-time updates on registration numbers. Passkey also is used by 90 percent of convention and visitor bureaus in the U.S., providing centralized management and reporting of room block reservations across hotels for planners of citywide conventions.

Over the next three to six months, the 40,000 planners who currently have room-block reservations going through Passkey will begin to see meeting management enhancements offered by Lanyon. Some of these are tools such as e-RFP engines and attendee management that planners may be getting already from other providers such as Cvent or SignUp4. “Our objective is to earn their business and provide them a platform where the experience is more integrated,” Sherman says. “It’s not a matter of, ‘You can’t use other tools.’ We will try to get people to use our integrated platform. We want our customer, the meeting planner, to have the best experience possible.”

The Top and Bottom Lines
There’s another customer involved as well—the hotel. Sherman explains that Passkey will help Lanyon offer its marketplace of meeting venues two main benefits: top-line revenue growth and bottom-line savings. The revenue comes through upselling. When attendees book their rooms through Passkey, they are offered room upgrades and other purchase options such as spa treatments. Sherman likens it to point-of-purchase spending in a market checkout line—i.e., when you grab those magazines and batteries you weren’t necessarily intending to buy.

Continuing the “market” analogy, Sherman says that while Passkey boosts incremental sales, Lanyon will flood the store with new customers—its client base, many of whom will now have their attendees booking rooms through Passkey.

As for the bottom-line efficiency, hotels that are Passkey-enabled save money when booking information is sent through the technology platform rather than having to be transferred manually.

What Planners Will Get
For planners, the acquisition of Passkey completes the meeting management tool set, Sherman says. “Now the meeting planner has one place to go to manage all aspects of their job.” All planners who are or become Lanyon customers will be able to use Passkey to set up hotel booking Web sites for their group attendees.

When planners use Lanyon’s supplier marketplace for site searches and to send e-RFPs, they will be able to search specifically for Passkey-enabled properties, or have those properties come to the top of the search list.

Sherman points out the benefits to planners’ customers as well: “For attendees, our goal is to make their experience seamless, with a single registration path. They will no longer go to two different places” to register for a meeting and then to book a hotel.

Smart Events Cloud
Last fall, then–Active Network Business Solutions began integrating the attendee management tools from its RegOnline product; the sourcing, budgeting, spend management, and approval tools from its StarCite strategic meetings management product; and the online communities, lead management, and mobile tools that comprised its Active Conference event marketing product into the Lanyon Smart Events Cloud. The integration allows organizations to combine management of their customer-facing marketing events with their employee events, their large conferences with their small board meetings. And now Passkey adds the missing room-block management element. The Smart Events Cloud also will include the tools recently launched as PasskeyANYWHERE, a portal for meeting planners to monitor an event’s accommodations; make, modify, and track reservations; and send confirmations in real time.

Lanyon is based in Irving, Texas. Passkey headquarters will remain in Waltham, Mass.