This is the second in my two-part column on online site selection. For Part 1, see January/February 2000 MM, page 132.
MeetingPath (www.meetingpath.com) Database--Covers six New England states and represents a collaboration among 21 regional CVBs. Lists 500 facilities with details on meeting room specs, floor plans, menus, Web links, and contacts. An extensive database of 5,000 other suppliers is also included.
Filtering--Filters include facility category (hotel, inn, conference center, etc.), location, sleeping rooms, meeting rooms (and capacity of largest), and exhibit space.
RFP--An extensive form requests contact information, meeting information, response preference, sleeping room block, optional meeting/banquet requirements, optional exhibit information, and meeting history. These leads go directly to the appropriate CVBs, which post them to their members. The RFPs can be archived and retrieved later.
Hot Rates--The STARdates section lists only short-term dates (12 weeks or less). Users choose the region and the week, then a substantial list of hotels comes up, with day-by-day inventories of sleeping room availability.
PlanSoft (www.plansoft.com) Database--One of the largest facility databases on the Web and the most complete meeting information. Funded by several meeting industry organizations and hotel chains, PlanSoft estimates it will list 22,000 facilities by this spring, including many outside North America. Information includes main phone/fax, sales phone/fax, Web site, number and type of sleeping rooms, proximity to convention center and airport, staff directory with phone/fax/e-mail, and complete meeting space specifications. Enhanced listings give up to 40 photos, panoramic views of meeting space, scalable floor plans, and maps. A searchable supplier database has more than 15,000 vendors.
Filtering--Search by facility name, type, location, metro area, region, city, state, country, number of guest rooms, size of largest/second largest meeting space, exhibit space, ceiling height, special rates, hotel chain, and climate.
RFP--PlanSoft requests a group profile, contact information, dates, room block information, and multiple reply and action options. The RFP can be archived, retrieved, and copied for future meetings.
Hot Rates--"Great Rates," searchable by date and rate
Additional Features--Extensive archives of articles, in cooperation with Adams Business Media (publisher of MM)
Site Search 2000 (www.sitesearch2000.com) Database--Lists 2,200 properties, mostly in North America, with plans to expand to the Caribbean and Mexico, bringing the total to 5,000 by the end of this year
RFP--Faxed to all sites with matching criteria. A follow-up call is made to the hotels. Automatic archiving allows the RFP to be used again.
Hot Rates--Search by date, number of rooms, preferred rates, and largest meeting room.
SmartRFP (www.smartrfp.com) Database--None
RFP--This online lead-collection service for a site selection business claims a 24- to 48-hour response time for RFPs, from which the user negotiates the finalwith the facility. Online RFPs include contact information, dates, rates, sleeping rooms, region, property type, brand preference, amenities, function space needed, and group history.
StarCite (www.starcite.com ) Database--10,000 meeting properties, 50,000 suppliers
Filtering--Multilevel filtering capabilities. Can be customized, allowing users to list preferred vendors and event history.and vendor tracking are strong components.
RFP--With the "RFP Command Center," users have significant flexibility on how RFPs are processed.
Additional Features--An online auction allows StarCite to send RFPs to a maximum of eight bidders and to arrange a day and time for a real-time auction. Buyers can then compare various suppliers' bids, which are displayed in a Matrix View on their monitors. Buyers can make comments and ask questions throughout the auction, but they must choose one of the eight bidders at the auction's end.