Starwood Hotels & Resorts and StarCite, the Philadelphia-based meeting technology company, have agreed on a new partnership that will allow meeting planner’s electronic requests for proposal sent from StarCite’s online marketplace to directly connect with Starwood’s sales automation system.

The partnership, announced last week, should benefit both Starwood and planners, says David O'Donohoe, StarCite's senior vice president of global supplier sales and operations. “It will ensure that RFPs are received and responded to as quickly as possible.”

By partnering with StarCite, “we will be able to provide faster and better service to our business customers, manage leads more efficiently, and ultimately close more sales,” said Barry Goldstein, vice president sales strategy and operations, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, in a statement announcing the partnership.

This integration, according to O’Donohoe, is proprietary to and completely unique to Starwood. The technology enables RFPs to be sent to the correct Starwood salesperson, “based on Starwood’s internal business rules.” This hastens the RFP process, eliminates redundancies, and should reduce errors and make the process more accurate, O’Donohoe says, “And planners should see a significantly quicker response time.”

The system should also help alleviate a problem that “consistently vexes planners,” says O’Donohoe. “Change tracking will be easier. This new functionality will enable a planner or supplier to see what was changed [on a new version of an RFP] versus the original RFP, no matter whether that change is trivial or significant.”

The integration is in the final testing phase, according to O’Donohoe, and should be fully implemented by the end of 2009 for all 960 Starwood properties.