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Filter in or out as many as 200 cities, as well as hotel and car rental class and meals of the day and watch as the per-diem calculator automatically adjusts per diems to your program. Drill down into cost breakdowns and export the results.
Worktopia late last month ended a six-year run as an
independent meetings technology company without its meetings space booking
capability achieving a critical mass of hotel acceptance. The company's new
owners expect that to change. Even if it doesn't, they believe Worktopia would
remain a viable component of their meetings tech offerings.
"In 2007 and 2008, when Worktopia was going to hotels,
it was a tough time. They had a little bit of a timing problem," said Nick
Romano, founder and president of meetings tech company SignUp4, which in May
acquired Worktopia for an undisclosed sum. "Today, we're still not
completely there. The market wants it, but it's the hotels understanding what
it is and how best it can be a channel for them."
Worktopia's primary value proposition as an independent tool
was its ability to tap into global distribution systems and enable users to
search and book meeting space at hotels, business centers and other venues. To
broaden its offerings, the company partnered with online booking tools, payment
systems, travel management companies and remote conferencing providers. Despite
deals with Holiday Inn, La Quinta, Affinia, some U.S. Starwood properties and
others, the number of hotels that allowed Worktopia to access their live
meeting inventory for booking remained limited.
Romano, though, said inevitable growth of corporate
strategic meetings management programs and further adoption of procurement
philosophies will persuade more hotels to take part. "We've always
believed that buying on the spot market is the way meetings are procured
today," he said. "You're beginning to see it, to some degree in some
larger organizations, where meetings are becoming part of transient travel
negotiations. SMM is changing the visibility of spend around meetings,
especially small meetings."
Small meetings more frequently are included in corporate
hotel requests for proposals nowadays, Romano said, and hotels naturally will
seek ways to manage that aspect of the business.
Romano expects hotels to embrace the concept of live
meetings inventory booked by third parties, but even if they don't, Worktopia's
other functionalities still would make it a valuable management piece.
"Worktopia has e-RFP capability and a tremendous amount of data around how
to deal with catering and small rooms and that sort of thing," he said.
"In the absence of a direct-book situation, it becomes an RFP capability
that is very similar to other RFP tools out today. However, I believe that
won't be the case for a long period of time."
SignUp4 offers a suite of event, travel and spend management
tools, available separately or as a unit, for which it charges a subscription
fee but no transaction fees. Worktopia will fit in with the company's
small-meetings management offering, but Romano said the precise manner in which
Worktopia's capabilities will be packaged and sold remains uncertain.
"Ultimately, the hope is to get Worktopia to a
subscription-type model," he explained. "That said, there's something
nice and unique about a transaction model, which has a lower upfront cost so
more people are apt to try it, and it's an easier way to get a product to
market. I don't want to say we've ruled out a transaction model. It's to be
SignUp4 several years ago helped Worktopia deploy an
attendee registration tool, Romano said, which led to familiarity with the
company's technology and interest in the acquisition, and should ease
After a month-long transition, neither Worktopia's former
CEO, John Arenas, nor its former executive vice president, Brian McCabe, will
remain with the company, Romano said. "We are reaching out to specific
execs and having conversations. It's not clear if anyone will be joining us,
but at this point, no one is. What Brian and John have done, we have a lot of
respect for, and we think they were on the right path."
Source: The Beat