Remember Ajenis--the product that was promised to solve many of the communication problems between hoteliers and planners by allowing the electronic exchange of meeting data? It's several years now after the initial launch projections, but the software, released by Twinsburg, Ohio-based PlanSoft Corp., is finally available.
Several thousand copies have been distributed to planners and hoteliers, who are trying it out and providing feedback, says Ted Frank, PlanSoft's executive vice president. The version of Ajenis for planners is available for a $500 annual license fee. Hotels pay $9,000 to $10,000 per year, per property.
"If all [hoteliers] do is eliminate faxes and overnight mail to and from planners, it's worth it," Frank says. "Hotels get hundreds of resumes in different formats, and have to track all changes. The communication back and forth is a logistical nightmare. The cost [of Ajenis] is nothing compared to what is saved."
Further, PlanSoft will introduce a Web-based application of Ajenis, which will be available to facilities by the end of September, and to meeting planners by the end of the year, he says. It will be simplified, enabling hotel convention service departments, without the software on their desktops, to jump on the Web and review changes in a planner's resume. It is fully compatible with the desktop version. The Web version is not yet priced.
Beyond Ajenis But PlanSoft has gone beyond being a one-product company, Frank says. "We see ourselves as an online resource for the meeting planner community." Toward that end, PlanSoft relaunched its Web site in late June, creating four distinct tracks. While www.plansoft.com had been aimed at all of PlanSoft's constituencies, the site now has unique services for meeting planners, meeting facilities, suppliers (audiovisual companies, DMCs, and so on), and those who want PlanSoft corporate information.
The planner area is rich with editorial content. (See sidebar at left.) Users will also find a database with information on about 25,000 suppliers, ranging from car rental companies to hotels. Under an agreement with ATCOM/INFO, users will be able to search for properties equipped with IPORT Meeting Manager, which offers high-speed T1 Internet access.
The site's online request for proposal (RFP) service fielded 110,000 room nights so far in 1999, and use is "growing very dramatically," Frank says. PlanSoft receives a four percent commission from hotels on business generated by its RFP service.
*PlanSoft Alliance PlanSoft has formed an alliance with Adams Business Media, publisher of TM. As of September, visitors to the ABM site, www.meetingsnet.com, will have immediate access to the PlanSoft Network, a database of every North American hotel--nearly 8,000--with 5,000 square feet or more of function space. Many listings include panoramic views of meeting rooms, guest rooms, and public space. Plansoft's electronic RFP system allows planners to send meeting dates and specs to up to 12 hotels, and to hear back within the time frame designated by the planner (48 hours is the average). Listings for 14,000 industry suppliers are also included. By the end of the year, the PlanSoft Network will include thousands of overseas hotels.
The new "Planning Guide" section of PlanSoft's site will offer a compilation of features and daily news articles on meeting planning issues, supplied by Adams Business Media. The archives will be searchable. "People want access to tips, advisories, and news," says Ted Frank, PlanSoft vice president. "[With this alliance] two visionary organizations are working together to integrate content and e-commerce."