After two years of research and investment, Brussels-based
Global Videoconferencing Network has launched an online booking platform for
virtual meeting rooms that enables direct bookings as well as those via
corporate tools and travel management companies.
GVN president and CEO Glenn Wastyn called the platform a "booking
suite" with an technological structure that can be integrated onto an
online booking tool, TMC webpage or other website. The booking process was
designed to be similar to booking a flight: Users enter time, location and
attendee information, and the platform shows available videoconferencing
facilities and pricing. From there, users can facilitate invitations and
Additionally, users can load in their private remote
conferencing locations to appear in queries.
"Our focus first was the public rooms, because there
are a couple of hundred companies with rooms, but most don't have any,"
Wastyn said. "If I have my own equipment, I can load them in our booking
tool, give them the private label and put the inventory under 'corporate user.'
It's an approach somewhat similar to what Sabre Travel
Network is taking with its Sabre Virtual Meetings platform, which it introduced
last year. As with GVN, Sabre's platform gives corporate users the ability to
book both public and private rooms, though the large companies beta-testing the
tool usually have been using it to book internal facilities, not public ones,
according to Sabre.
Wastyn said one of the primary goals of GVN has been to make
"the TMC a partner in the whole story." Though TMCs initially were
reticent to potentially cannibalize their business by promoting virtual meeting
use, they are beginning to understand that some corporations will shift some
travel to videoconferencing regardless, he said. By enabling agents to book such
facilities for corporate travelers, TMCs still can get transaction fees and
commissions from public rooms, he said. Virtual meeting room rental generally
costs less than a flight, but such commissions usually are structured to
provide the same or higher percentages than do airline commissions, he said.
"We understand that we need to incentivize the TMCs to
change their behavior," Wastyn said. "They've also understood that if
they don't do anything, the corporates will move away anyway, so this is a way
they can keep the pie and serve different products."
GVN already has announced partnerships with FCm and
GlobalStar and in the next few weeks will announce a third agency partner,
according to Wastyn.
At the present, GVN reports access to about 3,000 public
remote conferencing units, less than the 4,000 public rooms to which Sabre
reports access. Wastyn said efforts of late have not been directed toward
getting additional inventory.
"We were about six months delayed, based on extra
effort and features we were developing, but now we're back on track and focused
on adding inventory," he said. "We needed to have it right from the
start, then build upon that."