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Central reservations agents at Marriott International Inc. may have a view of what space is available for events and meetings across virtually all of the hotel chain's properties worldwide if a just-launched technology pilot works out.
The hospitality company is deploying Siebel Systems Inc.'s new Hospitality Group Sales and Event Management software, along with IBM's WebSphere middleware and DB2 database software, to tie together its event-reservation systems worldwide. IBM Business Consulting is handling the implementation.
With the new system in place, Marriott's business customers will be able to make a single phone call to find out when and where the hotelier could place an event that's expected to draw, say, 3,000 attendees. Currently, Marriott's event reservations are handled by individual properties, meaning event planners have to dial from city to city to find a venue that fits their needs. The pilot phase is scheduled to run through 2005.
Henry Harteveldt, an analyst at Forrester Research, says the system could give Marriott a big advantage in the corporate events market. "Group sales for the most part are still highly fragmented--to a large extent they haven't yet been touched by the Internet." Harteveldt estimates the deal is worth about $15 million to IBM.