Exclusive Interview – Bas Lemmens – CEO – Meetings.com
Meetings.com, the premier site for information on meeting, hotel rooms and banquet venues worldwide, recently announced the appointment of Bas Lemmens as the company’s new CEO. With Lemmens’ background in a number of major OTAs, and his work as cofounder of Bookings, we asked him what his thoughts are on this next challenge with Meetings.com and how this compares to what he’s done in the past.
I look at my experience at Booking.com as the perfect segue to what I’m now doing at Meetings. com. Both companies operate on a foundation of incredibly robust technology that seamlessly connects the end user to a world of options. At Meetings.com, our goal is to be the premier site for information on meeting and banquet venues around the world. My personal experience will allow Meetings.com to further its mission to find clients the perfect space and the best price. Because of this, in addition to the wonderful relationship our team has with its clients and hotel partners, we’re well on our way to servicing one million groups in 2018.
You are settling into Amsterdam as a new European base for the company. Why Amsterdam?
Our company already has an office in London and over 15 people spread out throughout Europe. I live in Amsterdam and see the new talent it’s attracting every day and want Meetings.com to be at the forefront of this innovation and creativity. Also, some of the best online travel companies are based right here on the Canals. What are the biggest challenges in the group travel sector today? The biggest challenge we’re faced with is to change the group travel business from a “Request for Proposal (RFP)” approach to a “Direct Bookable” approach. Our clients want to make and confirm direct individual bookings quickly and easily. Hotelplanner.com was a pioneer in this space and has continued success with this approach.”
What is your vision for the future of meetings and events technology?
It is critical that we continue to invest in robust booking technology for the MICE business. We invested more than 15 years in very good booking technology for Groups, Events and Meetings and now want to make it more accessible and easier to use for all businesses in the market.
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE WE’RE FACED WITH IS TO CHANGE THE GROUP TRAVEL BUSINESS FROM A “REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (RFP)” APPROACH TO A “DIRECT BOOKABLE” APPROACH.
A good example of this is our leading SaaS technology for meeting and event planners. By taking advantage of our technology, these planners don’t have to invest in their own and can focus on doing what they do best, which is finding the best venues at the lowest price for their customers.
How do you add value for properties and how is this evolving going forward?
We add value to properties by giving them more groups business, while at the same time, helping OTA’s convert their group request into hotel bookings. And for the end clients? End clients have easy access to a large portfolio of hotels and meeting spaces worldwide. And our firstto- market AI technology will book them in a space with ease that fits all of their needs. We are the only company in the world with enough recorded group booking conversations and transactions for such a development. Drawing from historical data spanning nearly a decade and half, as 3,000 groups per day interact with suppliers around the globe, our AI technology will be optimised for success.
How important is ITB Berlin for you as a platform to promote what you’re doing?
It’s very important to us, as all of the companies we want to do business with are present in one place. From hotels, OTA’s, and the big event players across the world, it is the premier travel event of the year
Photos : Bas Lemmens CEO, Meetings.com