Edward J. Tromczyski, president and chief operating officer of PlanSoft, believes that you owe it to your career and your organization to invest a few minutes each day at his company's Web-based meeting planning site, www.mpoint.com. If you're already an outstanding meeting planner, it will help to make you better, he says, and if you're a novice, PlanSoft's tool will have you sprinting up your learning curve. Tromczyski gives this advice with calm, like the doctor who knows the patient will be helped by 20 minutes of daily exercise.
There's a good reason for Tromczyski's confidence. PlanSoft Corp. (www.plansoft.com), headquartered in Twinsburg, Ohio, is the leading provider of technology solutions to the meeting and events industry. With the financial backing of many of the industry's most influential organizations, PlanSoft is driving widespread adoption of a new generation of Web-based tools that are setting new standards for the way meeting planners and the industry does business. PlanSoft's sophisticated but easy-to-use products and services are ultimately focused on the same goal, according to Tromczyski: Make it easier and more cost-effective to plan meetings and events.
Built by Meeting Planners
In 1997, PlanSoft rolled out a Web site that has become the industry's most active buyer-seller exchange. The site, www.mpoint.com (you can reach www.plansoft.com and www.mpoint.com through RCMA's Web site, www.rcmaweb.org), includes a searchable directory of more than 50,000 meeting facilities and suppliers, an online Request for Proposal, and a content-rich planning guide called “Info Central” to help meeting professionals plan events more quickly and effectively.
In your first five minutes at the site, it's obvious that the PlanSoft people have done it right. This site was made with meeting planners' needs in mind. Here's why: From top executives through key employees in sales, marketing, customer training, and product development, the team is made up of meeting pros. The person who answers the phones at PlanSoft has planned meetings, and so has Tromczyski, who planned hundreds during his career as an independent meeting planner.
PlanSoft built www.mpoint.com after consulting with hundreds of meeting planners, and the planners said to built a site that could be used buffet-style. “There have probably been a lot of products that forced meeting planners to do all the work at one time,” Tromczyski says. At www.mpoint.com, the buffet is always open, and these menu items always are available:
Fast search tools for what PlanSoft says is the industry's most comprehensive and up-to-date database of facilities, suppliers, and CVBs
Multimedia facility descriptions
A direct facility comparison feature
An online RFP for facilities
An archive of articles, checklists, and links
Planner message-board communities on a variety of subjects
Career resources, including an active jobs board
Online purchasing of executive gifts, tradeshow-booth giveaways
The amazing thing is that these services are free to meeting planners. Tromczyski says that's possible because PlanSoft makes money building technology tools for hotels, CVBS, and corporations with large meeting-planning staffs.
Mpoint.com, which has 60,000 registered users and logs 200,000 working sessions a month, is wonderfully intuitive. Begin exploring by using a guided tour or just poking around.
The home page prominently features four categories, perhaps the ones most religious meeting planners would want to see first: great rates, RFP creation, facilities search, and attendee registration. But it's only when you begin “drilling down” into the site, as Tromczyski likes to say, that you see what a gusher of content and technology is underfoot. Yet he encourages religious meeting planners to sample the site a little at a time.
“You can try what you like, and stay as long or as little as you want,” Tromczyski says.
The facilities content is impressive. A few tests of the facilities search prove the database's comprehensiveness. More than 27,000 hotels are there, the result of three years of research by a team of 30 people, Tromczyski says. Mpoint.com remains current by giving properties four opportunities each year to update their information. Properties also can provide “enhanced” information on the site for a fee; more than 4,000 have done so.
Young but Blessed
PlanSoft was founded in 1991 by two meeting industry veterans, Bruce W. Harris and Edward J. Tromczyski. Harris is the president of Conferon, the country's largest independent meeting planning organization. Tromczynski was one of the industry's leading meeting planners prior to founding PlanSoft.
From day one, the company focused on creating software that would revolutionize the way meeting planners manage information and communicate with industry suppliers, Tromczynski explains. The company's initial software offering, Ajenis Meeting Planning Software, evolved into the Web-enabled Meeting Management Solutions product.
The company was initially supported by investments from major organizations in the meeting planning industry that were convinced of the potential for PlanSoft's technology to improve efficiency and cut costs. Among the company's original backers were Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International Corp., and GES Exposition Services. Funding from the venture capital community followed; more than $50 million has been raised.