Poorly purchased and tracked meetings can cost organizations plenty of money. At last, there are a number of Web-based tools for tracking, monitoring, and consolidating meeting spending. Here are the top ones:
The newest player in the group, b-there has just launched a new application called OneForm for enterprisewide meeting consolidation and collaboration. Features include an event calendar, providing a consolidated view of all the company's meetings; collaboration tools for departments to set meeting objectives and evaluate event; a vendor management system that can be shared companywide; expense tracking and budget reconciliation tools; and site selection tools.
GetThere Direct www.getthere.com (formerly Allmeetings)
GetThere is a subsidiary of Sabre, the world's largest computerized travel reservation system (which also owns Travelocity). Right now, it is being marketed only to large corporations already using Sabre for travel procurement. It does not focus on tracking the many on-site expenses and suppliers, AV, production companies, etc.
PlanSoft's Meeting Management Solution offers a comprehensive suite of consolidation modules. MMS features include online search and site selection tools, meeting calendars, and RFPs; a centralized sourcing process that drives business to preferred facilities and suppliers with tools to monitor compliance; and customized reports.
ProcurePoint www.procurepoint.com (formerly EventSource)
ProcurePoint's main focus is the online procurement of hotel lodging. Features include an extensive site selection database with allowances for clients to load preferred vendors; a standardized RFP andprocess; and the ability to compare budgeted hotel spend data versus actual spend. There is also an option for centralized meeting department oversight of “admin” planners. ProcurePoint is perhaps best known for its open bid process (reverse auction), which allows hotels to bid online in real time for meetings requiring lodging. ProcurePoint comes at a lower price than the others, but it has the limitation of not tracking meeting spend from other suppliers (travel, AV, catering, etc.), so it captures only a partial picture.
SeeUthere is designed primarily for large organizations that wish to establish meeting spend controls on an organizationwide basis. Central to SeeUthere's strategy is defining the expense process. This system enables organizationwide enforcement, pre-meeting approval process, and compliance tracking in a manner similar to travel or office supply procurement.
StarCite was one of the first online providers to use meeting consolidation techniques. It provides an experienced senior management team and its approach is as much consultative as technology-based.
StarCite claims a “truly integrated” meetings platform, including procurement, attendee management, and group air, with a true two-way data flow of air reservations. Its two-year partnership with Cardinal Communication and recent purchase of the RegWeb product significantly round out its capabilities. StarCite offers a database of 53,000 suppliers and its combined buying power sources more than 1.5 million rooms annually.
Corbin Ball, CMP, is a speaker, consultant, and writer focusing on events and meeting technology. Contact him through his Web site, www.corbinball.com.