Hotel Online  Special Report


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SpeedRFP™ is Introduced at the 2009 Motivation Show

Representatives of Elite Meetings International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, APEX and the Meeting
Planning Community Unveil a New, Commission-Free, Portable Online RFP System
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– Available industrywide in 2010, SpeedRFP is Seen as a Solution to the Inefficiencies
and Costs of Submitting RFPs Online –


CHICAGO, September 30, 2009 – Leaders of the meeting and hotel industries came together at a press briefing at the 2009 Motivation Show to unveil SpeedRFP (www.SpeedRFP.com), a new product for creating, submitting and tracking RFPs online. 

Created and introduced by Elite Meetings International, Inc., the innovator in online solutions for the hotel and meeting industries, the new product received initial support from Starwood Hotels & Resorts (NYSE:HOT), which is integrating SpeedRFP on its www.StarwoodConventionCollection.com website; from the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX), and from the meeting planning community. Additionally, SpeedRFP is currently in the integration phase with Destination Hotels & Resorts (www.DestinationHotels.com), AMEXMeetingPlanner.com, and at www.EliteMeetings.com.

SpeedRFP is also being considered for integration by additional leading hotel chains and independent hotels, with full industrywide availability expected in early 2010.

Fast, Free and Easy

“We are delighted to introduce SpeedRFP,” said Kelly Foy, Chief Executive Officer of Santa Barbara-based Elite Meetings International.

He continued, “Coming on the heels of our FaceTime™ technology, which is being used to power the Hosted Buyer Program at this year’s Motivation Show, we believe we have created an innovative new product that will help both meeting professionals and hotel sales professionals conduct business faster and with greater ease and cost-efficiency.”

Foy concluded, “We appreciate the enthusiasm for SpeedRFP that we have already received from partners here with us today, and others. And we look forward to providing updates on the adoption and widespread integration of the product in the weeks and months ahead.”

SpeedRFP is the only online Request For Proposal (RFP) tool that is completely portable — it permits planners to take meeting, event and incentive RFPs anywhere on the web, and submit an RFP on any SpeedRFP-enabled site, with as few as 3 clicks. 

For websites that are not yet SpeedRFP-enabled, users can submit an RFP to any hotel in the world via www.SpeedRFP.com.  

Foy added that because SpeedRFP is free and brand-neutral, its unique combination of features and benefits make it an RFP solution with the potential to generate the benefits of adoption and efficiency expected of a true industrywide standard. 

SpeedRFP Community Edition will be available for free to all hotels. Enterprise and Pro versions will be available to hotel chains and independent hotels for a low monthly subscription fee.

Online demonstrations of the new technology were presented at the press briefing, and are continuing at the EliteMeetings.com and SpeedRFP trade show booth throughout the Motivation Show.

Supporters Line Up Behind the New Product

Amanda Armstrong, CMP, Meetings Manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and MPI’s Meeting Planner of the Year (St. Louis Chapter), said, “I am excited to join with my colleagues to introduce SpeedRFP, which provides unmatched benefits for busy meeting professionals who wish to organize, streamline and effectively manage the RFP process.”

Among SpeedRFP’s benefits for the meeting professional:

  • SpeedRFP is totally free.
  • SpeedRFP eliminates the need to rekey contact and RFP information into long, complex RFP forms.
  • SpeedRFP provides the freedom to submit RFPs to any SpeedRFP-enabled hotel, regardless of location or brand affiliation. 
  • SpeedRFP facilitates direct communication between buyer and seller.
  • SpeedRFP’s form complies with the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) standards.
  • SpeedRFP creates a single account profile that is recognized and honored at any SpeedRFP-enabled site, dramatically reducing the time involved in creating and distributing multiple RFPs.
  • SpeedRFP permits management of all RFPs in one place on the web, regardless of which SpeedRFP-enabled site was used for submission – allowing the planner to make changes, resubmit, view proposals, compare proposals, negotiate details, and more.
  • SpeedRFP allows continuing dialogue documentation through SpeedRFP’s messaging system.
  • SpeedRFP is flexible—it can work as the sole RFP form, or allows planners to attach their own RFP template/forms as desired.
Dave Marr, Senior Vice President of Brand Management, North America, for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, said, “I am happy to join Amanda and Kelly in introducing SpeedRFP, which provides a great solution for hotels looking to maximize the time, resources and energies of their sales organizations.”

Among SpeedRFP’s benefits for hotel organizations: 

  • SpeedRFP allows seamless integration into a hotel or brand website with only 3 lines of code. 
  • SpeedRFP provides functionality to supplement or replace existing RFP forms. 
  • SpeedRFP charges no commission or transaction fees for RFP submissions. 
  • SpeedRFP permits direct input into sales management systems. 
  • SpeedRFP provides a standardized format to enhance the quality of RFPs. 
  • SpeedRFP gives access to the SpeedRFP planner network. 
  • SpeedRFP forms can be posted on other sites, such as CVBs and web guides, for additional exposure and distribution.
Marr concluded, “We look forward to working with the Elite team to fully integrate the technology at www.StarwoodConventionCollection.com, and share the positive results with the industry.”

Reviewing the History: From Innovative Product to Potential Industry Standard

Karen Kotowski, Chief Operating Officer of the Convention Industry Council (CIC), founders of the APEX technology standards, said, “We are pleased to recognize SpeedRFP, which like other technologies, has made the APEX standards a key part of its product.” She concluded, “We are pleased to work with Elite Meetings and other industry professionals and technology firms who are on the cutting edge, recognizing the power of innovative technology to advance true collaboration between buyers and suppliers.” 

In reviewing a brief history of that collaboration, Foy noted that current online RFP systems have not proven popular among meeting professionals, and have been challenging for hotel sales professionals to manage.  

He said, “The largest hotel chains receive only 20-30% of their RFPs through online forms. That means both planners and hotels continue to deal with unnecessary inconvenience, administrative cost, and inefficiencies. SpeedRFP was developed to bring as many of these professionals as possible into a community of users that benefit from quicker, easier, and more cost-effective transactions.”

Foy concluded that SpeedRFP was developed to overcome the tremendous barriers to adoption of online RFPs, by dramatically reducing the amount of data rekeying required of both buyer and seller; offering a form that adheres to APEX’s recognized industry standard;  and increasing the quality of RFPs and the subsequent communications by making it easy to exchange complete event information. 

SpeedRFP is a patent pending product and trademark of Elite Meetings International, Inc., which expects to make additional announcements in the weeks and months ahead.

About Elite Meetings International
Based in Santa Barbara, Elite Meetings International (EMI) provides integrated solutions to enhance the performance of meeting and hospitality professionals. EMI supports this community through a combination of innovative technology, direct sales support, customized marketing programs and face-to-face business-building events. Additionally, www.EliteMeetings.com serves as a commission-free RFP-generating tool and a comprehensive vehicle for sourcing luxury, upper-upscale and upscale properties. EMI’s innovations include FaceTime™, a widely used program for helping conference attendees identify synergies, manage appointments and make direct connections with one another; and SpeedRFP™ (www.SpeedRFP.com), a new time-saving product for creating, submitting, and managing RFPs online. For additional information, please visit www.EliteMeetings.com call 805-730-1000.

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 960 properties in 97 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft®, and Element SM.  Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.

About CIC/APEX
APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange), an initiative of the Convention Industry Council, is developing and implementing industry-wide accepted practices which will create and enhance efficiencies throughout the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry. 
The Convention Industry Council’s 34 member organizations represent more than 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry.  
 


 
Contact:

Michael Frenkel, MFC PR
for SpeedRFP
michael@mfcpr.com
(212) 808-6556
 

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Also See: EliteMeetings.com Wins Gold in the 2009 Travel Weekly Magellan Awards / September 2009
Geoff Freeman of the U.S. Travel Association Will Deliver the Keynote Address at the Fall EMA, September 13-15; Elite Meeting Alliance (EMA) to Feature Leading Industry Speakers - Focus on Building Business in the Current Economic Climate/ August 2009
Getting Face Time at Trade Shows Just Became Easier Elite Meetings International Set to Partner with Top Meeting Industry Partners to Roll Out its FaceTime™ Appointment Scheduler at High-Traffic Shows / July 2009
Elite Meetings Alliance Brings Together Top Meeting and Hotel Professionals: Despite Challenging Times, Strong Interest in Meetings Reported / May 2009
EliteMeetings.com Goes Commission-Free / January 2009
Elite Meetings International Releases List of Five Top Renovated Resorts / September 2008
Elite Meetings International Announces Magazine Distribution Agreement with Hudson News at Major US Airports; Elite Meetings magazine to arrive on newsstands July 1 / June 2008
Elite Meetings International, Inc. debuts EliteMeetings.com version 2.0; New site release packs powerful, time-saving tools for planners to search, locate, and negotiate directly with luxury hotels / June 2008
Group Business, Education, and Networking Headline the Spring 2008 Elite Meetings Alliance; Top hoteliers and meetings planners succeed in booking group business at the Elite Meetings Alliance hosted by Elite Meetings International / April 2008
Elite Meetings International Announces the Acquisition of EliteMeetings.com; The purchase allows company to move forward on its long term vision / January 2008
EliteMeetings.net Takes Bronze in the 51st Annual Adrian Awards; Official Award Presentation by HSMAI to be January 28, 2008 at New York City's Marriott Marquis / December 2007
EliteMeetings.net to Launch First-Ever Online Community for the Luxury Meetings Market / November 2007
Elite Meetings International Welcomes Brad Pirman as CIO / October 2007
Group Business, Education and Networking Highlight the Fall 2007 Elite Meetings Alliance; Powerful Combination Delivers Successful Outcome / September 2007
Elite Meetings International Welcomes Susan Campbell to Top Editorial Post / August 2007
Elite Meetings International Opens Latin America & Caribbean Offices; Mauricio Aceves, Caroline Musy, and Renata Villa appointed to management team / July 2007
Elite Meetings International Announces Capital Investment from Jones Equity Partners; Company receives initial $2 million investment, backed by $5 million in revolving credit / July 2007
ELITE MEETINGS International Welcomes Thérèse Hilton as the Newest Member of the Team; The company states this is the first of many key hires in anticipation of exponential growth in 2007 and 2008 / June 2007
Elite Meetings International Launches New Magazine Showcasing North America's Top Hotels and Resorts for Meetings; Elite Meetings magazine, along with the newly launched Web site, are the ultimate resources for meeting and incentive planners / April 2007
Elite Meetings International Launches First-of-its-kind Website, Setting a New Standard for Meeting and Event Planning; Extensive database of North America's top resorts and hotels establishes a one-stop-shop for planning professionals / April 2007
Sundance Prepares for the Elite Meetings Alliance; Event unites top meeting and incentive planners with hotels and resorts for a one of a kind face-to-face business meeting experience / February 2007
Luxury Hoteliers and Corporate Planners Rave About the ELITE MEETINGS ALLIANCE; Next Alliance, Scheduled for March 19-21, 2007, at Utah's Sundance Resort / October 2006
Top-tier Incentive/meeting Planners and Hospitality Executives Join Elite Meetings Advisory Board; Magazine Featuring Best Properties to Launch in 2007 / October 2006
Top-tier Incentive/meeting Planners and Hospitality Executives Join Elite Meetings Advisory Board, Magazine to Launch in 2007 / September 2006
Top Corporate Meeting and Incentive Planner, Luxury Hotelier Gathering in September Has a Few Remaining Openings / August 2006
Hoteliers and Corporate Planners Give High Marks to Inaugural Elite Meetings Alliance; Next Alliance scheduled for September 10-12, 2006, at The Club at Hammock Beach in Florida / May 2006
Hoteliers and Corporate Planners Give High Marks to Inaugural Elite Meetings Alliance; Next Alliance scheduled for September 10-12, 2006, at The Club at Hammock Beach in Florida / May 2006

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