Rob Wilson Apex: Where is it now?

Single Facility RFP

November 16, 2007

By Rob Wilson

This article is centered on the Single Facility RFP  - the first module of the APEX Standards that hoteliers are now seeing on a daily basis.

Single Facility RFP
In short, the Single Facility RFP is the tool a planner uses to find a hotel. During this process many things happen:
1.        The planner gathers meeting requirements.
2.        The planner delivers the meeting requirements to hotels (online, e-mail, fax, telephone, etc).
3.        Hotels respond back in multiple formats (online, e-mail, fax, telephone, etc).
4.        Planner gathers all this data in whatever format they can
5.        Planner decides where to have site inspection
6.        A property is decided upon after site inspection
7.        Contract negotiations begins
8.        Contract is signed

Short and sweet, right?

Well not exactly. Behind all of this are a lot of man hours to filter, edit and manage the data on both sides (planner and hotel).

The goal of APEX is to make this process easier by using standards and technology. A panel of our peers defined the best practices for the Single Facility RFP regarding content. In the TAC, we developed the technology using XML, SOAP and web services to make the transfer of this information standardized.

Today, Meeting Sites Resource is the first company in the industry to be APEX compliant and is sending out all of their leads in the APEX recommended standard format for content and technology. This format has four different sections that outline each area of the RFP. The huge benefit to hoteliers is the information about the RFP will be in the same place every time. Currently, hoteliers get 20-30 different leads a day with each lead having the needed information in 20 - 30 different places. This is very inefficient and has a learning curve that never ends.

Sample APEX recommended standard format (short form)

- There are two different forms (short form and long form). The short form was the first to be put into production. The long form will follow.

Within the next six months the vision of APEX will begin to be fulfilled - systems will be talking to systems without the need for human intervention. When the meeting specs are sent out, they will go directly into the hotel system and the hotelier will be able to check availability and respond to the lead all within their own computer system. Today, hoteliers have to go to multiple places to get the specs, check availability and then respond.

This is a huge step forward in realizing the efficiencies that technology can bring to the hotel industry.

What does this mean on the Hotel Side?

Hotels understand the huge benefit that standardized RFP's will bring to them. Hotels, with representatives on the TAC, are moving to accept a message in the XML Format and then process it within their own computer systems. This could happen in one of two ways:
1.        The hotel works with their IT department to build the interface capability based on the APEX technology standards.
2.        The hotels work with their software vendors and their software vendors create this capability.

Through either path, the hotel will be able to accept the RFP information, process it, and send back a response without the need for human intervention.

Other Resources

2006 APEX Annual Report
APEX Presentation

If you are interested in becoming involved in APEX, please contact EJ Siwek or Rich Hunter.

I hope you have enjoyed these articles and please feel free to call or email me with any questions that you may have.

Have a great day!

The Work of the APEX Technology Advisory Council

November 14, 2007

By Rob Wilson

This article focuses on the APEX Technology Advisory Council (TAC) and the work of this council to facilitate systems talking to systems that will bring the vision of APEX to reality.

The APEX (TAC) is made up of experts from the commercial software development community, hotels and other suppliers to define the technical standards needed to implement the business standards defined in the seven practice areas. This group is making great strides in defining the data schema, message types and standards. The TAC is creating tools that enable low-tech and high-tech users to benefit from using the accepted practices.

The beauty of the work of the TAC is that the data specifications are not software dependent. In time a planner may be able to use the APEX Toolbox™ Microsoft Word template and the hotel could use its property management system (mapped to the forthcoming APEX data schema) and electronic data exchange occurs.

APEX TAC is aligning itself with related standards organizations to ensure consistency of technology standards in the future, particularly:
OTA (Open Travel Alliance) focuses on the individual and group traveler
HTNG (Hotel Technology Next Generation) focuses on the hotel sector

The following function areas are being worked on by members of the TAC. The Single Facility RFP has gotten the most focus because it is step one in the process of using automation to realize the efficiencies that technology can bring to the meetings industry.

Single Facility RFP
The Single Facility RFP is the process of gathering the meeting specs ( meeting dates, room block, meeting space information, location, etc ). Typically this information is coming via email to the hotels in many different formats (online, word, pdf, excel,etc).

Some of the companies involved in this module include:
Meeting Sites Resource
Meeting Matrix
LA INC. The Convention and Visitors Bureau

Rooming List
Once the facility has been determined for the meeting, registration is the next step. The rooming list is what is generated from the registration process.

Some of the companies involved in this module include:

Event Specifications Guide
The ESG replaces the Resume and BEO and is the industry’s tool to use in preparing and sharing complete instructions and details for events.

Some of the companies involved in this module include:
Certain Software
Ungerboeck Systems

The end goal of APEX is to have the information being passed from system to system and eliminate the manual entry of data multiple times for the same meeting. This is done by first defining the data schema, then defining the messaging standards, and lastly building tools to translate the messages to and from existing legacy applications.

In the last article I will be focusing on the Single Facility RFP. The Single Facility RFP is step one in the process of making all the other steps automated.

An Introduction to APEX

November 12, 2007

By Rob Wilson

APEX is an initiative of the Convention Industry Council (CIC). The Convention Industry Council's 32 member organizations represent more than 103,500 individuals, as well as, 17,300 firms and properties involved in the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industries. Formed in 1949 to provide a forum for member organizations seeking to enhance the industry, the CIC facilitates the exchange of information and develops programs to promote professionalism with the industry and educates the public on its profound economic impact. In addition to the APEX Initiative, CIC is also responsible for the Hall of Leaders Program as well as the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Program.

The stated vision and mission of APEX are as follows:

The industry will operate at the highest level of efficiency and professionalism through the use of collaborative accepted practices.

To spearhead an industry-wide initiative that brings together all stakeholders in the development and implementation of industry-wide accepted practices which create and enhance efficiencies throughout the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry.

So what does this mean for you?

As accepted practices are adopted and implemented across the industry, a few of the benefits include:

--Seamless transfer of data between computer systems, which reduces duplication of efforts, increases --efficiencies of operations, and results in cost-savings.
--Streamlined systems and processes that result in time and resource savings.
--Enhanced quality of service provided to customers, including event attendees.
--Acknowledged measures of comparison and evaluation for improved decision-making.
--Consistent employee training resulting in increased professionalism industry-wide.

In short, it will make the industry more efficient and productive.

The APEX initiative started 6 years ago and to date has involved over 6,000 volunteers and resulted in a series of documents outlining the standards in seven different practice areas:

--Creating 4,000 word industry glossary
--Defining the Event Specifications Guide
--Post Event Report
--Housing & Registration Practices

--Contract Accepted Practices
--Request For Proposals
--Meeting and Site Profile

In order to implement the standards the CIC has moved on a three pronged approach.  The first is to make the standards available for free on their website and encourage their use.  The second is to develop software that incorporates the standards, encouraging planners to use the software and for venues and other suppliers to be able to accept the output of the standard.  The third is to encourage commercial software developers to embed the standards within their software on the planner side and the supplier side

This article brings you up to speed as to who is behind APEX, the vision and mission of APEX and what is already available to help the hotel industry put Accepted Practices in place in their own work environment.

In the next article, I will be highlighting the APEX Technology Advisory Council (TAC) and the different modules that are being worked on to facilitate systems talking to systems to bring these efficiencies to reality.

Previous Gurus

January 2009

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31