Expedia’s under-the-radar site Meeting Market is looking to expand beyond its current German base and become a pan-European, if not global, portal for the MICE sector.
The site brings Expedia into a new vertical, although there are clear crossovers with its established hotels business. Meeting Market aims to automate the many and various “inefficient and manual” processes which still exist when it comes to booking meeting rooms and event space, equipment, food and beverage.
Importantly, it can also offer mass bookings of up to 50 hotel rooms at the same time, and claims to be the only platform capable of doing this.
It is the brainchild of Andreas Nau, head of Expedia Central Europe, and was quietly launched into the German market last July. He said that the idea “was presented to Dara [Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia Inc] and the senior product team and we were given the go-ahead to test and invest. So we’re using a lot of Expedia’s existing expertise to launch what is basically a startup.”
The scale of the opportunity is compelling — Nau believes that around 70% of the meeting room bookings which are currently handled manually can be standardised. The market is fragmented, and using tech to automate processes is an area Expedia is familiar with.
As a start-up, Meeting Market has initially focussed on demand and supply. The demand for meeting rooms already exists and comes from German SMEs which manage their own meetings, or from specialist event organisers which work with the SMEs. Some TMCs also offer clients a MICE option as part of their overall proposition.