Siebel, IBM deliver room service to Marriott

The new software designed to help Marriott manage bookings will eventually roll out to others in the hospitality industry as part of Siebel 7.7.

Siebel Systems Inc., IBM and Marriott International Inc. are teaming up to change the way hotel booking and event management is done.

Last week, IBM Business Consulting Services and Marriott announced they will work together on a new approach to hospitality using Siebel's new Hospitality Group Sales and Event Management application.

Conference and event booking have long been a sore spot in the hospitality industry, with as much as 25% to 30% of queries getting lost in the shuffle, according to James Dunham, general manager for travel, hospitality and transportation at Siebel.

So, as it has done with many of its biggest customers, Siebel worked with Marriott to offer new functionality to counter the problem. What resulted will be the San Mateo, Calif., company's new hospitality vertical software, to be offered under Siebel 7.7, which is due to ship next spring.

As much as 70% of a major hotel's business comes from events and subsequent room bookings, Dunham said. The new hospitality application gives an overall view of room, function areas and equipment inventories through an inventory manager.

"Making this more predictable and capturing more demand on this really helps them be able to optimize their business for better forecasting," Dunham said.

For example, when someone calls in to book an event, the user can tell availability right then and there, not just at one location but across several, Dunham said. Currently, that process can take days. Additionally, for facilities that are already reaching capacity, the application can help them to make immediate decisions about whether a particular type of business inquiry is the kind they want, he added.

"Streamlining the group sales and event management process through this agreement with IBM will create a significant competitive advantage for Marriott by enhancing customer service," Carl Wilson, executive vice president and CIO for Marriott International, said in a release.

There are no gaps in event management or re-entry of data, officials said. The application reduces planning time for events, typically a laborious process, he said. Dunham also touts quick and simple ROI. For example, if a business has $4 billion a year in revenue, and events represent two-thirds, a decrease of 1% in the drop rate can be a significant value, Dunham said.

While Siebel worked with Marriott to develop the vertical software, IBM stepped up and offered engineering and integration support, Dunham said.

The application will run on the IBM DB2 database platform. IBM Global Financing is providing a tailored financial offering that enables Marriott to defer payments, matching development costs to the rollout of the system's benefits. A pilot phase at Marriott is scheduled through late 2005.

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