Global Meetings

GES Acquires onPeak and Travel Planners

In October, event-marketing giant GES acquired two major providers of event-housing services: onPeak, headquartered in Chicago, and New York City–based Travel Planners.

The combined business now serves clients under the name onPeak, a GES Global Company (onPeak | GES). It’s all part of a growth strategy to “become a preferred, global, full-service provider for live events,” according to GES President Steve Moster, who noted that in recent months GES has also acquired Blitz Communications, a leading AV company in the U.K. and Europe, and N200, a Netherlands-based event-registration and data-intelligence platform.

Convene spoke with Moster and onPeak | GES Executive Vice President Michael Howe several months after the announcement to learn more about how the combined business provides event organizers with one-stop service.

Customers are able to use onPeak | GES for their housing needs even if GES isn’t their official service contractor. How will the GES and onPeak teams work together to secure business for each other?

SM Our goal is to obviously provide a single, seamless solution to event organizers and corporate marketers. We believe that we’ve pulled together in our integrating the best of breeds across a lot of different disciplines like housing, registration, and event production. So our ultimate goal is to provide that single solution.

MH As we’ve progressed and as technology is the cornerstone, I think part of everything that we do — and we know technology is moving at a rapid pace — is that we want to be able to get the tools to the event organizers as well to potentially access their single account, so that I can get all of the information about their event and how the event performed, all the different analytics of their events as well. And by having those combined, that can provide additional services to those event organizers.

How do these acquisitions fit into a big-data framework?

SM Big data is obviously a trend happening in the industry today. And it’s all about how to make events more productive and grow those events in size. We believe that the combination of data streams right now is pretty fragmented across multiple providers, across multiple platforms. And one of our goals is to have a single platform much easier to interface and analyze the data coming off of events to help our clients really grow their events and become smarter as event organizers.

How are you helping show organizers get their arms around the information that comes through their housing data?

MH By being able to analyze the actual behavior of where people are booking — where they’re staying, how long they stay, what were some of the properties that were attractive, what were some of the benefits that attracted them to that property — we can better provide information back to our organizers to make better decisions for the future. What we’re trying to do is bring more people into these rooming blocks. We have heard, like everyone else in the industry hears, about poachers and the damage that they do to our businesses and also to our reputation. So by being able to analyze this information and be able to really bring more and more people to book in the block, that actually benefits everyone.

What kind of impact do you see sharing-economy players such as Airbnb having on room blocks?

MH It’s definitely an interesting area, and it’s something that we are constantly looking at — as well as how can we actually bring someone like an Airbnb to an advantage. We’re always looking at these different vehicles that are out there that could be potentially taking away some of that revenue to the hotels. It’s important to ensure that you’re providing the right inventory for those people coming to those conventions. And that goes back to the data once again — analyzing that to ensure that we do have the right properties that meet the demographics of those people trying to do the various events that we work on.

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.