Meetings and travel management software company Cvent is planning for and investing in major modifications to its Cvent Business Transient product, formerly known as Lanyon, that will change how users prepare for, send and negotiate requests for proposals, the company announced Tuesday during its Cvent Travel Summit.
Other than one new feature planned to go live during the second quarter, Cvent currently intends to roll out the updates during the first quarter of 2022, after the 2022 hotel RFP season has finished. In the meantime, it will make the changes visible to users in a preview mode as the components are developed over the coming year, said Cvent senior director of product management Brian Sullivan.
“The preview will allow you to view data input into the current application, and you can play around with the data, but you can’t save anything” in the preview mode, Sullivan said. “All work must be done in the current system through the end of the year. This will give customers ample time to get into the system and see the changes before they are forced to use them.”
The new feature to be added this year will allow corporate users to ask for dynamic ceiling rates in the program set-up, Sullivan said, adding that this option previously was available only to consortia. “It allows for corporations to have the security of a fixed rate but also benefit from lower publicly available rates as a result of the depressed occupancy we’re facing today,” he said.
The first redesigned element, available in preview now, is a new property profile that segregates the display of static hotel content like features and amenities from rate information for easier negotiation, Sullivan said. “When you click on the property profile name in the solicitation, you’re taken to the current property profile, where you can launch the new profile and take a look around,” he added.
Hotel program set-up is the next feature Cvent will tackle, and that could be available to preview during the latter part of the second quarter. That process will include a multistep navigation process to view hotels for potential program inclusion, but “you won’t have to go through the process of selecting specific questions to be answered anymore as it relates to static content,” Sullivan said. “We’ll go get that content for you. You select the parameters for your program, input custom questions, and you’re good to go.”
Currently slated for preview around July is a solicitation function, which will have a new look and feel. Cvent also is testing a new concept it calls “instant offer,” which changes how suppliers can build rate plans in preparation for RFP responses. “We now have the ability to allow [hoteliers] to accept rate proposals prior to soliciting clients, which can save valuable time in the RFP process,” Sullivan said.
That change is slated to be previewed by the fourth quarter, along with a new negotiating process. Static content and rate content will be displayed separately, and the process will “focus on what matters: prices, amenities, policies and tax inclusion,” Sullivan said. “Benchmarking data is currently available in an offline report and provides valuable competitive rate information and amenities-inclusion information, but now it will become more easily accessible at the point of decision.”
The negotiation section of Cvent’s RFP tool will continue to use the new “negotiation assistant” feature, released in December, which uses a patent-pending algorithm to produce suggested rates based on the offerings of the hotel. The algorithm incorporates machine learning to hone its recommendations over time, and it takes more than 20 factors into account, including competitive information, general market information, account history and size of the client’s program to determine what it would expect the rate to be in order to conclude the negotiations, according to the company. In Cvent’s beta test of the negotiation assistant, clients who used it found that the average number of negotiation rounds declined 41 percent, thereby concluding the negotiation process more quickly, Sullivan said.
Other changes made in 2020 to the tool include allowing hotels to share their safety and cleaning protocols during the RFP process. Cvent worked with buyers and suppliers to create 59 standardized Covid-19 health and safety questions, which have been answered by about 40,000 of the hotels in the tool, said Cvent VP of product management Jim Abramson.