Emmanuel Ebray, HRS Global Hotel Solutions' managing director for South-east Asia and South Korea, tells Karen Yue that for South-east Asian planners holding out for the Meetago solution, it is a case of good things come to those who wait
HRS Global Hotel Solutions started investing in Meetago in January 2015, but the South-east Asia roll-out only took place in end-2017. Why the long wait for a region where business meetings and events are growing rapidly along with their economies?
It was not a case of waiting in as much as it was a case of localising and becoming the first truly global e-RFP meetings and events tool fully converted to the native language. We wanted to ensure that when we launched we had fully trained our existing hotel solutions teams to adapt to the additional responsibilities of knowing the best places for meetings, conferences and events, as opposed to their existing transient knowledge.
All of this takes time and is completely in line with HRS priority of putting the meeting organiser or event planner right at the centre of everything we do.
It is said that Meetago’s automated meetings booking tool works best for standardised, small-scale gatherings. How common are such meetings in South-east Asia, and what is the profile of a ‘standardised, small-scale’ meeting in this region?
Many of our customers use Meetago for everything, from a 10-person meeting to (larger) customer conferences and expositions.
We are solely focused on removing the headache of hotel/venue negotiation – right from selecting the right hotels/venues using our platform enhanced by our hotel experts who are located in the markets, to contracting that hotel/venue efficiently and managing the nightmare that is room pick-up.
For larger meetings we prefer to let experts do what they do best and partner with best-in-class providers of solutions in areas such as exhibitor and speaker management.
How well has HRS done in convincing internal bookers to ditch their traditional booking ways for an automated process?
It really has to be seen to understand why our internal adoption rates are so high. Simplicity is in part responsible for the dramatic growth we have experienced. The comment we commonly get after training is that planners love it.
The platform is designed for speed and ease. And with MICE experts in our offices all over the world, there is always someone to jump in and help. Whether that is to complete the entire RFP for the customer and show them the super cool side-by-side comparison tool, or to just chase venues or hotels for better pricing, HRS will do as much or as little as the customer wants us to.
How many South-east Asian companies have adopted Meetago since the end-2017 launch? What are they saying about it?
We cannot reveal that for data protection reasons. However, when we went to market with a fully localised, simple and sophisticated platform backed by knowledgeable, localised hotel experts, the response, as you would expect, was extremely positive.
As meetings involve pulling people together, and people’s desires could change even for the most standard of gatherings, does Meetago offer any level of flexibility should the booker need to customise, perhaps, the coffee break menu or room setup?
Yes, of course. Meetago can assist in changing anything, from room set-up to customising menus. We made the standard menus, room layouts, etc simple to click through as our research has shown that more than 80 per cent of all meetings have identical requirements and that 75 per cent of planners now are not typically professional. They therefore require the simplest platform to be effective. Our internal adoption rates have shown this to be the right approach.
For now it seems that Meetago is targeting corporates. Do you foresee the tool being made available to trade associations, which also does regular, standardised training meetings throughout the year and could benefit from an automated process?
Our focus is not necessarily on corporates. We have options for trade associations too. Meetago will handle all the scheduling and our customers’ preferred partner can provide the custom website that HRS will plug the room allotment/pick-up tool into. This is how we work with our corporates on their larger customer expositions and events involving more than 1,000 pax.
Emmanuel Ebray is the managing director of HRS Global Hotel Solutions, taking charge of South-east Asia, South Korea and India. HRS is a global hotel solutions provider with more than 40,000 corporate customers worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies. Ebray’s core responsibilities include setting the business direction, driving organic growth with new and existing customers across the markets, establishing strategic partnerships, and talent development.