A clutch of international hoteliers have launched an online, real-time, central reservation system that they claim will double the occupancy rates of hotel meeting rooms.
Okanda said it aims to revolutionise the booking process for hoteliers and meeting-room customers alike. The system is targeted at increasing the occupancy of meeting rooms from 30% to 60%, boosting profitability for UK hotels and, at the same time, streamlining the time-consuming booking process for customers.
The online portal will also allow hoteliers to manage their meeting rooms in real-time, with little management required.
The business, which has raised more than £1m in seed funding, is to launch later this year in the UK and Germany before seeking further global expansion.
Chief executive Dirk Führer, formerly chief commercial officer of the Steigenberger Hotel Group, said: "Okanda removes a lot of the antiquated barriers encountered when booking a small meeting room, such as long-winded requests for proposals, and equally helps hoteliers increase occupancy and build incremental revenue in a traditionally difficult to manage area."
He added that Okanda will free up resources and broaden hoteliers' meeting inventory "to not only better serve their existing customers, but also to attract new ones".
The business has drawn on industry statistics that suggest meeting rooms are only in use 30% of the time in the UK hotel market, where there are more than 10,000 such rooms (seating up to 50 people), worth about £40b a year.
Führer, who has also held commercial positions at Hilton Worldwide, Rezidor Hotel Group and Starwood Hotels & Resorts, said the system's benefits include a high-level back-office functionality, a user-friendly dashboard, and a strong understanding of the pain points associated with meeting room bookings
Okanda is backed by two German banks, KfW and NRW.BANK
The pre-launch page is at www.okanda.com