Meeting industry players from all sides have long complained about the costly and inefficient process of managing conference housing and registration. Now, two new technology alliances offer solutions--online.
* Passkey/Pegasus: Passkey.Com, Inc., an Internet-based convention housing management product, has formed an alliance with Dallas-based Pegasus Systems, Inc. (www.pegsinc.com), which produces a product that translates and downloads reservations data from CVBs/housing providers to hotels' databases. Execs expect the system to be operational by year's end.
* WynTrac and WizCom: Nipping the heels of the Pegasus/Passkey partnership is the agreement between WynTrac (www.wyntrac.com), the Web-based housing/registration software produced by Jade Technologies in Dallas, and WizCom (www.wizcom.com), a system, which, like Pegasus, electronically transmits reservations into hotel databases. This partnership is slated for a third quarter '99 rollout.
Both WynTrac and Passkey create a centralized online database giving the meeting planner, the housing company and/or CVB, and the hotels, 24-hour, real-time access to room-block information. Using WizCom or Pegasus, hotels can then download rooming lists directly into their databases. Both systems are designed to save of time and money, and reduce errors. Each company charges clients on a per-transaction basis, based on volume.
Who's on Board? Of course, such end-to-end systems only work if all parties join in. The big four--Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, and Starwood--have all committed to Pegasus' new system. Based in Quincy, Mass., Passkey (www.passkey.com) recently received a non-exclusive endorsement from the International Association of CVBs, and currently has with eight major bureaus, including Boston and Orlando. Several third-party vendors have also signed on, including site selection firm Helms/Briscoe. Passkey processes $9 million in hotel room revenue each month, a figure that is doubling every quarter.
The other team is racking up points, too. WynTrac's current clients include Oracle Corp.; and at press time, its biggest and newest client was Housing On-Line/PGI. The housing provider for the New York City, San Diego, and Hawaii CVBs, Housing On-Line/PGI is also managing housing for several of the upcoming meeting industry conferences, including Meeting Professionals International's July convention. While WizCom, based in Parsippany, N.J., can't tout the Big Four as clients, it intends to market its partnership to its roster of 90 hotel chain customers, including Radisson and Adams Mark .
To date, WynTrac handles association or corporate meetings, and offers an event registration service. Passkey is not set up for corporate meetings, nor does it have event registration capabilities, but both services will be added in the near future. To further complicate things, Chuck Schwartz, managing director, Housing On-Line/PGI, says that despite WynTrac's partnership with WizCom, his company plans to develop its own interface for the electronic download of reservations.