According to new startup MeetingRoomNow, depending on the time of the year, 65% or more of Canadian hotel meeting room space sits idle, despite increasing demand for space to accommodate small to mid-size groups.
MeetingRoomNow, based out of Toronto, claims to be the only North American-based platform or distribution channel that supports booking, confirming, customizing, and paying for hotel meeting space online and in real-time. Founded by former Marriott employees Adam Metrakos and Sulaiman Speed, the duo have signed up over 20 hotels in Ontario in seven weeks while confirming partners in other major cities across Canada.
Metrakos does note that you can pay for hotel meeting space through some branded hotel websites, but that their site is the first one that supports multi-brands and locations. The site shows the average market price for an event planner's meeting requirements via an algorithm and thus offers a price for a particular meeting room that best suits their budget. The site has a number of filters including quality of hotel, set up, meeting requirements, and more.
Small or mid-sized events usually require less time to plan than larger corporate conferences and summits. As a result, MeetingRoomNow is targeting those that are looking to hold events in meeting rooms at hotels with 2 to 55 people. The founders hope they can fill those empty hotel meeting rooms across the country into revenue generators for hoteliers.
"This tool is great because I often don't get much notice," Event coordinator Mary Loewen at For My Homework says. "With MeetingRoomNow.com, I won't have to wait for an RFP to come back. I can make a decision and move on to other planning details."
The process is just as simple for hotels as they enter inventory through a simple and secure back end portal while adjusting pricing as the time to booking shrinks. One hotelier says, "It's a perishable product and I'd rather get a little less for the room, yet add something to the F&B (food and beverage) bottom line, especially when it also puts us in front of people we might not otherwise have as clients."
While teleconferencing has been on the rise for years, MeetingRoomNow says that North American companies are replacing or supplementing major annual meetings with smaller meetings held across the country in person where the rooms are connected via teleconferencing. They say industry experts expect this practice to grow 10 to 15% a year for the next five years.
After all, the company says immediacy is critical for hotels wanting a piece of the smaller, short notice meeting market - 20% of meetings are cancelled or held in-house if organizers can't quickly secure meeting space. Metrakos, a co-founder, believes that MeetingRoomNow, which has had 500 availability requests in their first seven weeks, has two things working in their favour: people have less time to shop these days, and people are becoming increasingly tech savvy.
They have also been asked when they will launch in the United States and other places in the world. As a result, the startup is seeking a second round of investment in April in order to fund the expansion to other parts of the world.
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