Who would start a meeting-industry Web site in today's iffy economy? Charlie Robinson did. A 28-year-old with a sales and marketing background, most recently with Starwood's Washington, D.C., national sales office, Robinson started HotMeetingDates.com last year to provide meeting planners with a source for short-term meeting dates. The site was designed to follow two cardinal rules of the Web: The user must accomplish a task within three mouse clicks, and the site must provide quality content.
Our check of the site shows that it does take only three clicks to get the job done.
The first click: The “search our database” button brings you to a screen where you fill out basic information.
The second click: The “search” button brings up a recap of your info and a place to check off dates you're interested in at the various hotels listed. You can attach your own RFP or fill out the form provided. This screen also gives you a thumbnail sketch of the hotel, including the amount of meeting space and the number of rooms, and lets you choose which hotels' dates and rates meet your needs.
The third click: The “submit” button sends your request to the hotels that you've selected. An immediate e-mail confirmation includes contact information for sales reps at the properties you chose, in case you want to follow up before they do. Listings are noncomissionable. Hotels pay an annual fee as well as $19.95 for each request received.