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March 2012 . . 21 FORUMondon's Science Museum hosted the third Conference News/Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) Winter Forum, sponsored by Lockton.Forum Chairman and HBAA Chief Executive Peter Ducker set the challenge of assessing the impact of technology on meetings and events and, in particular, trends with eRFPs (electronic request for proposals).Grass Roots Venue Finding Division Director David Taylor said it was inevitable that the industry would move towards a global meetings GDS and that one solution would eventually be broad-based enough to consolidate as a default channel for meeting RFP's. "Professional service companies have to save millions, and they want to have global holistic systems to track and channel their business requirements; this driver alone should ensure this will happen sooner rather than later," he said.Ducker said clients were now using technology to not only advertise and fully commercialise their events, but to extend event lifecycles. He asked the table about RFP client tools, such as StarCite, Cvent, ABC and Arcaneo. "They are changing the way we do things. The question is how. Is it all for the good, does it deliver what we want it to? Are clients loving or hating it?"Most agents said they used one or more systems, some in combination with their own bespoke systems."If we had a choice we'd use our own," said Taylor, "but global platforms are here and we have to work with them." A common view was that the earlier adopters like StarCite were in need of upgrade to compete with some newer, nimbler systems introduced to the market.Andrew Deakin, Director at Conference Care, fl agged "challenges around double entry" when agencies used more than one LeRFP fears, Part IIPart II of the Conference News/HBAA Winter Forum heard agents discuss their experiences of working with various eRFP systems. Paul Colston reportssystem. "There are great systems about but the user interface can mean it can be a rocky journey. We hope for consolidation of systems," he added. Ducker suggested we may be moving towards one platform with common protocols. David Taylor added he thought the market would make it happen."Next year and the year after consolidation of platforms will come. We can't have fi ve or six global platforms out there. It doesn't make sense."Anne Doherty from HelsmBriscoe said she thought Cvent was the more adaptable of major products on the market: "We use it for back offi ce and have put a lot of volume through it." Cvent also appeared to be winning business on the back of price.Many pointed out booking tools and systems were often mandated by clients and that buying a licence for each could prove expensive.Zibrant's Systems and Quality Manager, Katy Brookman, said that agencies like London's Science Museum was the venue for the CN/HBAA Winter Forum