“Outside of recruitment and rising costs there is no more important industry topic than Instant Book in the simple meetings arena.”
This observation by Sian Sayward of Inntel helps to understand why almost 150 members of beam and non-members from all over the UK, were keen to come together for the beam Instant Book Summit at the Doubletree by Hilton Oxford Belfry Hotel.
The Summit was organised for beam by venuedirectory.com. Michael Begley, Managing Director of venuedirectory.com explained: “Instant Book offers so many valuable benefits. There’s so much to gain by bringing together agencies, clients, suppliers and technology providers to discuss the opportunities and issues, turn them into action and move the solution forward faster.”
It proved to be a day of enthusiastic debate and energetic discussion with no shortage of questions and opinions from the audience all day.
After an introduction by Juliet Price, Consultant Executive Director of beam, Michael Begley set the scene discussing “What do we define as a small meeting?” venuedirectory .com data shows that meetings for up to 30 delegates cover 82% of bookings.
Kate Scully, Global Business Travel Manager of Howdens Group shared a Corporate Buyers’ perspective in conversation with Chetan Shah of Micebook. Kate said “I would be happy to see venues listed on a booking platform, with instant access to support. This would make everything more efficient and give us hours back.”
During the Agency Panel, Richard Shacklock of Agiito observed “You can book accommodation out of office hours but you can’t book a meeting room.”
Paul Casement of Clarity said: “We have to sharpen up the booking side for small meetings. Instant Book allows us to streamline and better place our resources to serve our clients – this is particularly pertinent given current resource pressures we’re all experiencing”
The technical panel moderated by Caleb Parker of Bold considered what was limiting the rate of adoption in the UK. Luis De Souza of NFS Tech said:“Many of our venue clients like to deal with all enquiries in a personal way so are reluctant to lose that. But it is changing. Venues are becoming more comfortable about releasing access to inventory.” Dan Humby of Groups 360 said; “It’s a complex issue with a lot of legacy technology to overcome and many different technologies in use.”
Costs are always a key consideration when deploying technology and the travel industry has had a history of adding cost layers to a booking and this was often a criticism of the Global Distribution System or GDS used by the travel sector. Will Helsby of venuedirectory.com confirmed that “there will be no additional charge from venuedirectory to connect a venue to Instant Book if it is already a client.”
After Douglas O’Neill said that there “needs to be parity of price no matter which booking channel is used,” Julie Shorrock of HTS said “We should learn from mistakes and also take what works well in the accommodation sector in developing this.” Jacqui Kavanagh of EDGE Venues lead a panel asking ‘what does success look like in Supply, Distribution & Book’, Danny Yates summed up the views of many with one word; “Adoption.”
When Callum Mclean of Agiito called for an industry working party, many people volunteered to be on it. “A first task will be to define Small meetings sizes and / or simple meetings” Callum added.
Summing up the day,Matthew Davies of Cvent said:“Direct booking is here now. The industry is ready. Event planners want it. There are hurdles that can be overcome, not brick walls.”
Rich Matthes of Amadeus who came over from the U.S. thought. “It’s been excellent, well worthwhile. I think we have started to move the issue forward.”
Judi Oliver of Silverstone commented “It’s great to get everyone in one room to discuss the various issues and the challenges around Instant Book,” while Lucy Sikora of The Savoy said “This is the perfect topic to discuss in person. We need more education around the technicalities of Instant Book in order to drive confidence and move forward.”
“So many people have said that, before today, they didn’t really appreciate what an important topic this is and that they had learnt so much.” Juliet Price concluded.
Michael Begley added “We need to come back together in about six months to review progress and keep up the momentum.”