Ottawa startup’s cloud service for meeting planners

A phone call has a number of virtues: It’s personal, precise and two-way.

That’s if you get who you’re calling. Otherwise it can be a game of tag that leaves no trail.

Some organizations need a communications trail they can follow to ensure instructions are being carried out.

That’s why Ottawa startup Benbria Corp. this week released a version of its cloud-based BlazeLoop messaging solution aimed at event planners.

Called Mobile Event Engagement, it lets private meeting planners who work for corporations, conventions or weddings notify hotel staff about last-minute changes – more coffee is needed, please turn up the heat, the digital projector is broken – without having to leave the meeting.

Whoever the planner deals with at the hotel gets messages fast, can forward them to the appropriate staff and has a record of all requests and whether they were satisfied.

The hope is that a satisfied planner will recommend the hotel to clients for future events. Meanwhile the hotel can keep tabs on the changes for accurate billing.

“Because it’s a Web-based, the meeting planner doesn’t have to download anything,” said Tony Busa, Benbria’s director of marketing.

Busa said the service is aimed at any sized hotel, from large chains to individual hotel. The institution pays for the service, which is free to planners.

He said monthly pricing depends on the size of the hotel.
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Nyle Kelly, director of operations at Ottawa’s Brookstreet Hotel, a boutique inn near the city’s tech companies, has been testing the app since December and says planners find it useful.

Usually planners would leave a meeting to find hotel staff or try to leave voice messages on cellphones or a hotel house phone.

The app “allows them a tool to communicate with us in real time without interrupting their event,” he said. Meanwhile hotel staff have a “discrete and unobtrusive way” of communicating with the planners.

Mobile Event Engagement includes a Web portal that ties into a hotel’s communications system. The simple interface – which can be customized –breaks down possible issues to four categories (food and beverage, meeting room, audio-visual and other) – with subgroups for quick messaging.

Messages are noted as open or closed so both sides can know what’s been resolved.

Kelly said planners are notified by an email message with a link to the app once a meeting is booked.

Mobile Event Engagement is a specialized app that doesn’t deal with event management – the actual booking of meeting space and food for an event, which is done by on-premise software like Newmarket International’s Delphi.

Which begs the question what if Delphi – which also has cloud version – comes up with a similar service? Any company can be a threat, Busa replied. He also said that in the U.S. his company has a partnership with wireless carrier Verizon, which hosts Mobile Event Management in its cloud and gives the company access to hotel chains there.

Benbria makes a number of apps for helping organizations stay close to customers.

–BlazeLoop Customer Engagement, announced last November, is aimed at giving retailers, hotels and casual restaurants a way for customers to immediately text complaints so they are acted on quickly. The Brookstreet Hotel was using it when Benbria asked if it was interested in testing the event engagement app.

–BlazeCast is a customer notification service for pushing information out via alerts, texts or automated calls.

— BlazePoint is an emergency messaging solution for healthcare institutions, government organizations or utilities.

Benbria’s investors include entrepreneur Terry Matthews through his Wesley Clover investment arm. Matthews is chairman of the board.



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