3 ways to speed up your meeting planning

3 ways to speed up your meeting planning

As published by BizBash

Upgrade your booking methods, accelerate your process and reclaim your time

It’s an exciting time to be in the meetings and events industry as in-person gatherings continue to pick up speed.

How many group events or meetings are you currently planning? Probably more than you care to count—and with lead times that keep shrinking.

That’s why your planning process needs to keep up with your workload. To take more on and to get it done faster, planning efficiency is key—especially when sourcing and booking hotels.

Here are three ways to supercharge your meeting planning and regain valuable time.

1. Upgrade your sourcing methods

Are you still relying on search engines, online venue directories, individual hotel websites or word of mouth to find a meeting venue?

Traditional methods can take months of wading through overwhelming amounts of information. For busy meeting planners and travel organizers, these outdated approaches simply take too long.

Even after the arrival of digital RFPs, planners have had to fill out extensive entries into expensive legacy sourcing systems, only to receive results populated with paid placements irrelevant to your program.

GroupSync™ accelerates your search by providing a curated list of destinations and properties that fit your needs.

Sourcing on GroupSync will shave weeks, even months, off the time it takes to book your group rooms and meeting space, allowing you to focus on creating a fantastic attendee experience.

What’s more, GroupSync is free to use for travel organizers and planners.


 Get your free GroupSync account now >>

2. Send more strategic RFPs

For years, planners have had to send rounds of RFPs just to verify pricing and availability—and then wait for hotels to (hopefully) respond.

You can fast-track your booking process by strategically selecting hotels on the GroupSync Marketplace. GroupSync helps you find destinations and hotels that fit best with your program, within your budget.

No more phone tag and endless emails in search of what you need to make an informed decision. You can easily craft a single RFP to send to your ideal hotels selected from over 200,000 properties worldwide on GroupSync.


3. Book groups instantly online

Imagine how much faster your planning process would be if you could skip the RFPs altogether.

With GroupSync Instant Booking, you can now book room blocks, meeting space or both in a single online purchase, 24/7.

Ideal for smaller, simpler meetings, GroupSync Instant Booking gives you access to live rates and inventory at nearly 9,000 hotels worldwide.

Speed up your planning process by booking your next hotel on GroupSync—the technology changing the way the industry books groups.


Don’t miss out!
Instant Booking for Marriott’s portfolio of hotels across the United States and Canada has launched on GroupSync.

To celebrate, Marriott International is giving away 1 million Marriott Bonvoy® points to planners who book Marriott properties on GroupSync. Enter now for your chance to win, click here for details.


To sign up for a FREE GroupSync account, visit groupsync.com/register.

Rethinking the hotel booking process for groups

Rethinking the hotel booking process for groups

As published by BTN

The rapid evolution of business meetings and events has motivated planners to seek out technology to help them adapt to the changes.

For decades, meeting planners have expressed frustration with the longstanding hotel RFP process for booking groups. And the earliest digital RFPs simply sped up an already cumbersome process, rather than rethinking it altogether.

As hospitality industry veterans, the Groups360 team has been both behind and in front of the hotel check-in desk. We created GroupSync™ to provide a better, faster, more targeted way for meeting organizers to search, source and book hotel rooms and meeting space.

Create a Standout RFP

One of the primary advantages of the GroupSync Marketplace is its proprietary algorithm, designed to match you with destinations and properties that align with your specific needs and preferences. Your search starts by inputting your ideal destination, event dates, room count, average daily room rate, meeting space requirements and distance from airports, as well as preferred hotel brands and amenities.

From among more than 200,000 properties around the world, GroupSync search results include only properties that can accommodate your group. Destinations and hotels are also scored according to how well they align with your needs and preferences. And unlike legacy systems, there are no paid placements—only properties that can accommodate your group based on your criteria.

GroupSync search results also highlight properties with incentives that align with your program, as well as those with need dates that might give you a price advantage on room rates. The detailed, well-informed RFPs you produce on GroupSync can lead to faster, better responses from hotels and frees you to focus on what matters most—your event.


Book Rooms and Space Instantly Online

Instant Booking allows planners to book room blocks, meeting space or both, as well as A/V, F&B and more, in a single online purchase on GroupSync.

Ideal for the smaller, simpler meetings currently driving the industry’s recovery, GroupSync Instant Booking connects meeting organizers to 1 million available rooms—soon to be 3 million—at 20,000 leading hotels. In 2023, meeting space will be available for booking at thousands of properties.

Customized search results display which of the preselected hotels offer Instant Booking, and planner login credentials reflect group rates previously negotiated with your preferred hotels.

GroupSync’s live hotel room inventory—from Hilton, IHG, Marriott and Omni, as well as a growing number of other leading brands—can also inform your sourcing process so you can know before submitting an RFP if a hotel can accommodate your room block.

The most innovative technology companies don’t simply digitize existing processes—they reimagine a better way to do business. 

Get Ready to Hit the Road

According to recent surveys, 80% of planners intend to prioritize in-person events once it’s safe to do so, and 72% of hybrid meeting attendees believe they’ll get more value from the in-person experience. And 68% of planners for B2B marketing events say face-to-face interaction generates more leads.

Professionals agree that conventions, conferences and client meetings are best experienced face-to-face. Nothing can replace the enthusiasm, interpersonal connections, new business opportunities or increased ROI of an in-person gathering.

That’s why Groups360 is dedicated to empowering meeting planners to bring people together more easily, more effectively and more often.


Marriott International is giving away 1 million Bonvoy points—get started with a free GroupSync account >

Instant Booking Ushers in New Era of Transparency for Group Rates

Instant Booking Ushers in New Era of Transparency for Group Rates

As published by Skift Meetings

In today’s pressure-cooker environment, planners want the same immediacy and variety as in their online grocery shopping. GroupSync’s instant booking gives them the faster, smarter decision-making capabilities they crave.

Skift Meetings’ recent State of Business Events survey found that over 75 percent of event planners are now facing shorter lead times. At the same time, venue bookings are being snatched up quickly as the industry begins to return to 2019 levels — with small meetings even surpassing pre-pandemic numbers. All of these factors mean that planners have to jump on the best deals as quickly as possible, or risk being shut out entirely from their top choices.

In years past, meeting planners could rely on their network of contacts to scope out the best rates and strike a deal, but with so much industry turnover during the pandemic, those connections might have moved on. And neither planners nor hotels want to deal with a stack of rapid-fire RFPs sent high and low. Fortunately, instant booking platforms are emerging to help stop the gap and create a new culture of transparency around group rates.

The recent announcement of the launch of Marriott International’s U.S. and Canada properties on GroupSync Marketplace is a sign of what is soon to become the industry standard, with hotels allowing event professionals to browse real-time group rates and book group guest rooms, meeting space, food & beverage, and audio/visual services in a single transaction instantly, online. Marriott and Groups360 are celebrating the launch with a 1 million Bonvoy points giveaway.

Book Smarter, More Streamlined, and at Scale

Marriott International is the first brand to have a direct integration with GroupSync Marketplace to offer instant booking for both guest rooms and meeting space at scale. In a squeezed market where bookings are being snapped up at a record rate, the ability to browse over 1,500 Marriott properties across the United States and Canada provides some much-needed breathing space to meeting planners.

Instant Booking for Small Meetings

Planners have access to real-time best available group rates and inventory for small meetings at these properties, with more to be added in 2023. Marriott’s definition of a small meeting is 10 to 25 guest rooms on peak and/or events for up to 50 attendees, available to book as little as 4 days out and up to 1 year out with a maximum length of stay of 7 days. However, each brand or property may set their own on-peak maximums and booking windows, so these parameters may vary as more hotel groups sign onto the GroupSync platform.

Total Transparency for Group Rates

Importantly, planners are seeing exactly the same pricing that the hotel sales team would see on their internal systems. “Today, whether a customer tries to book a 10-25 room group on Marriott.com, GroupSync, or calls one of our hotels directly, they will receive the same rate,” says Drew Pinto, Global Officer Global Sales, Distribution and Revenue Management at Marriott International. “Keeping rates consistent across our direct channels is crucial to giving our customers confidence to use GroupSync Instant Booking.”

Faster RFP Responses

Marriott’s integration with GroupSync isn’t just about providing clarity over rates and the option to book small meetings instantly; it also speeds up the traditional RFP process on both ends. Because the system removes some manual entry steps on the hotel side, planners can expect a faster response. And while this automation might streamline the beginning of the process, planners can rest assured that their relationship with the brand remains intact. “Whether a customer submits an RFP through GroupSync or any of our direct sales channels, that customer and corresponding group rate will be negotiated based on the event details and relationship with Marriott,” Pinto says.

Established Client Relationships

Further, whether planners opt to book instantly or submit an RFP, the system will automatically apply any MSAs (master service agreements) that they’ve previously negotiated. By the same token, planners can expect all the same perks no matter which booking route they choose. “We make sure that all those special requirements that you have — the acknowledgement, the welcome gifts — that all still happens,” explains Pinto.

Saving Planners’ Most Valued Resource: Time

Meeting planners are working in a pressure-cooker environment as the demand for small meetings heats up. Thanks to the increase in hybrid and remote work, face-to-face time now comes at a premium. It’s in this new paradigm that GroupSync’s instant booking tools are emerging as a viable option — just in time.

The traditional sourcing process can be long and painful. Particularly when it comes to small, simple meetings, having to send an RFP and wait three days or more just to secure basic information about availability, specifications, and rates can be frustrating, especially when time is of the essence.

Instant Booking for Catering, AV, and Equipment

With GroupSync, planners can instantly book what and when they need to — including AV, catering, and any other equipment. “This deal marks a landmark for group booking,” says Kemp Gallineau, CEO of Groups360. “It’s the first time an actual planner or an organizer, whether professional or non-professional, can go onto a site and book rooms and space to include catering and equipment without having to send an RFP.”

Time to Focus on Creative Meeting Design

This streamlined booking process has the added benefit of freeing up time to spend on the more complex and creative elements of planning a meeting or event. And that means meeting professionals can focus more energy on designing the moments of connection that provide the most value to attendees. With small meetings now filling a vital role in fostering collaboration and energizing company culture, there has never been greater need for planners to think carefully about how to make the most of these high-value experiences.

Visibility Across Corporate Teams

The GroupSync system also creates more visibility across big corporations, which can create a company-wide account with individual account access, all of which is trackable. With more and more corporate departments organizing small meetings to bring remote teams together, this kind of visibility has never been more important.

Shaping the Future of Booking Meetings

The launch of instant group booking is timely, but it has been many years in the making. This long process is a reflection of just how much thought went into each element.

Having worked in hospitality for over 30 years, CEO Kemp Gallineau drew from his deep industry knowledge from the very earliest stages of product development. In fact, it was during his tenure as Chief Sales Officer for Gaylord Entertainment (now Ryman Hospitality) that he saw an opportunity for the group sales process to be made more efficient. Thus began many years of product development and hotel negotiations. In his words, Groups360 is an “overnight success, nine years in the making.”

Rather than reaching the finish line, however, the GroupSync platform is on the path to build further momentum. “It takes a while to make things happen, but we’re excited, and we truly believe this is the pinnacle of what’s possible in the years to come,” he says.

What’s Next

GroupSync is already in use and working effectively, but it also continues to evolve. Both Groups360 and Marriott are seeking to continually improve the system, and have put mechanisms in place to capture regular feedback. “As trust and confidence grows, much like you’ve seen in other online platforms, consumers get more comfortable with the transparency and the way it works,” says Gallineau. “What’s exciting is both Marriott and Groups 360 are going to learn from the consumer through the way we use it.”

For meeting planners, this marks a key time to shape the direction of a product that will soon be vital to their daily work. Customer success agents at Groups360 will be monitoring and polling meeting planners about their experience. Marriott similarly encourages customers to try it out and tell them what they liked, what they didn’t, and what could be improved. “We’re all about making their lives easier,” Pinto says. “We want attendees staying at our hotels to be able to take advantage of their own point plans and be treated to all their custom preferences and privileges.”

The next step is rapid expansion of the product. According to Gallineau, “Currently we have the ability to send RFPs to over 200,000 hotels worldwide. Over the next few months we expect to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 hotels, mainly in the United States and Canada, that will be able to have bookable online inventory — either booking group rooms, group space, or rooms and space together.”

A New Era for Meeting Planners

When people shop online, they expect to see prices and availability immediately for most things. Although booking group meetings online is more complex than buying a pair of shoes or sunglasses, planners still want to see enough variety to be able to compare options and make fast, confident decisions. GroupSync provides this immediacy and flexibility, meaning that soon meeting planners will be able to browse through venue options armed with the most vital information: pricing and availability.

In addition to Marriott International, the Hilton, IHG, and Omni hotel groups have already enabled instant booking of group guest rooms for over 8,000 properties worldwide. It will only be a matter of time before meeting space inventory becomes available for instant booking across the board.

In the current climate, it’s easy to see the appeal of a system that lets planners narrow down viable venues quickly. Thanks to a growing list of hotel partners signing up for full transparency, the GroupSync Marketplace is now able to streamline every stage of venue procurement, from initial research to final closing. So if an instant booking platform isn’t on a planner’s wishlist already, it should be.

Have you heard? Marriott is giving away 1 million Marriott Bonvoy® points to celebrate their launch of Instant Booking on GroupSync. To learn more and to set up a free GroupSync account, click here

Marriott International launches online Instant Booking for groups and events

Marriott International launches online Instant Booking for groups and events

The newest announcement and partnership between Marriott International and Groups360 include the launch of Instant Booking for Marriott’s portfolio of hotels across the United States and Canada.

Exciting news for the group travel industry. Today, Marriott becomes the first brand to use GroupSync’s Instant Booking functionality for both room blocks and meeting space at scale, providing planners with a streamlined booking process at the click of a button.

With this launch, GroupSync™—Groups360’s flagship product—can now deliver real-time rates, availability, and online instant booking options for groups. meetings and events at Marriott properties throughout the United States and Canada.

Along with the visibility of real-time pricing and availability, meeting organizers can also book meeting room equipment, audio/visual, and purchase food & beverage for their events within the same booking transaction. With a seamless and personalized experience, GroupSync turns hotel booking for groups into a shopping experience.

GroupSync turns hotel booking for groups into a shopping experience

To make true instant booking happen requires a direct integration of systems—one that provides us with the real-time rate and availability data needed for Instant Booking. The benefits of this integration are felt throughout GroupSync, not only making Instant Booking a reality, but it also makes the integrated RFP process smarter.

It’s a major win for group travel and meeting planners. This direct integration between Marriott systems and GroupSync provides immediate, actionable data during the early stages of the hotel sourcing process without having to submit an RFP.

Having this type of access to rates and availability offers a level of transparency never seen before in the industry. The ability for group organizers and planners to have this data during the sourcing process, without submitting an RFP or contacting a hotel, is revolutionary—and makes GroupSync the quickest and easiest way for group travel planners to book any size group at a Marriott property.

“This offers our group customers what they have told us they are looking for — a much more seamless and efficient booking experience,” said Drew Pinto, Global Officer, Global Sales, Distribution and Revenue Management, Marriott International. “Our industry-leading integration with Groups360 will also allow all Marriott hotels globally to receive and respond to RFPs quickly and efficiently through a two-way response process. This will be a win-win for both planners and hotels.”

“Their involvement is a testament to the commitment to reduce friction in group travel planning and help hoteliers, like Marriott, enhance their customer relationships,” said Kemp Gallineau, CEO, Groups360. “With the addition of Marriott International, we anticipate that over 20,000 leading hotel properties will be equipped to offer online group booking in the months ahead.”

Along with Marriott International, GroupSync’s marketplace includes brands and independent hotels from all around the world. Nearly 200,000 properties can be booked via GroupSync’s Smart RFP, and of those hotels, we’re approaching 20,000 globally that offer Instant Booking options for rooms, meeting space or both.

To kick things off, Marriott is celebrating this launch by giving away 1 million Marriott Bonvoy® points with the Plan to Win Giveaway. To enter, simply book a Marriott property on GroupSync. Use Instant Booking for a chance to win 30,000 points or book via GroupSync’s Smart RFP for a chance to win 20,000 points—choose from any of Marriott’s 30 hotel brands.

For group organizers and planners new to GroupSync, click here to get more details and to get a free GroupSync account.

Existing GroupSync account holders can view the Plan to Win Giveaway details and official rules here.

5 winter destinations that will melt your groups’ heart

5 winter destinations that will melt your groups’ heart

Planners are often tempted to host their group of attendees in warm, premium destinations under the sun, especially during colder weather months.

Palm trees and umbrella drinks anyone?

While the appeal of warmer temperatures is common, they aren’t necessarily more dynamic or cost efficient. There are a variety of benefits to visiting scenic winter destinations and even more when choosing a lesser-known location for your meeting or event.

Every event planner has essential criteria when searching for destinations. From the need for easy air travel and public transportation to convention center accommodations and after-hours attractions — we’ve considered them all.

We’re shining a spotlight on winter wonderlands for your group and breaking down everything you want to know.

Why you might want to choose a smaller city during the winter months
You may not have considered the following cities for your next meeting or event, or the winter season for that matter, but you should. Here’s three reasons:

1. Affordability

Better price points are simply more attractive. While some of our selections aren’t really off season, many destinations during winter are. Whether your budget is tighter or not — midsize cities can often get you the most bang for your buck without sacrificing quality. In addition, they typically offer special incentive packages for after-hours activities.

2. Population

Navigating densely populated airports and sidewalks while shoulder to shoulder does not lend itself to a relaxing travel experience. Plus, over-crowded public transit systems are stressful. Smaller cities, by nature, have more elbow room and are often easier to navigate.

3. Community

The hospitality of midsize destination cities means planners can create high-value experiences for their event attendees that interpolate small-city charm. That might include vouchers to nearby businesses, hotel room welcome baskets with local products, or pre-arranged guided city tours.

These cities might not be on most organizers’ radars for wintertime events, but we encourage planners to think outside the box when sourcing host cities.

There are, of course, other not-so-commonly-used cities for meetings and events that may work well. If you’re lost in destinations but know everything else you require, our GroupSync Marketplace can recommend cities based on your group’s criteria.

5 winter destinations for meetings and events

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, WY

They say you won’t go a day in Jackson Hole without running into an elk, and honestly, that might be enough to draw you in. For nature lovers, adventurers, and wannabe outdoorsmen, this is a city that fully embraces its panoramic landscape — from camping and dog sledding to hot springs and Nordic skiing.

Air travel: Jackson Hole Airport is serviced year-round by Alaska, American, Delta, and United Airlines.
Convention center: The Conference Center at The Lodge at Jackson Hole is a flexible event space of 10,000 square feet. It has natural light, individual climate controls, and a modern mountain design, and is a short drive to Yellowstone.
Off the clock: Travelers could do the typical souvenir shopping in the town square, but why do what’s been done? Instead, opt for a wildlife tour or experience a winter sleigh ride. (If you do opt to shop, know that single-use plastic grocery bags were outlawed in 2019.)
Stay longer: Reserve shuttle service and fly in early to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.
Public transportation: Hiking, backpacking, skiing, whitewater rafting, and horseback riding are all ways people get around here. You can also manage with the public bus system, called START, or by renting a car, using a car share service, or calling a taxi.
Cost efficiency: If skiing is a priority, the trip can become pricey. Yet there is still free activities to maximize your stay.

For more details:
Visit Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce

Park City, Utah

Park City, UT

“Winter’s Favorite Town” combines its silver mining history with its proud participation in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. In fact, many athletes still use Park City as their training grounds.

Air travel: The Salt Lake City International Airport’s sustainability focus is a plus, yet it’s really the convenient access travelers care about. The airport, which is also a Delta hub, is a 10- or 15-minute TRAX ride from downtown Salt Lake City and about the same drive time to the Salt Palace Convention Center.
Convention center: Speaking of the convention center, take an online fly-through of its 700,000 square feet to see it for yourself. Park City’s meeting spaces vary in size.
Off the clock: Depending on your cold weather bravery, you might pick a mountain biking route, as Park City is North America’s only IMBA Gold-level Ride Center. Celebrate your gumption post-ride at High West, the state’s first brewery and first legal distillery.
Stay longer: Most of the state’s 15 resorts are less than an hour from the airport, so you’d be remiss not to take advantage of “The Greatest Snow on Earth” (it’s science). Then, save the date for the Sundance Film Festival.
Public transportation: There’s a free bus and trolley system.
Cost efficiency: Park City and neighboring Salt Lake City can’t help but be compared to one another, yet one aspect where Park City squeaks ahead is travel costs. Average costs for food, transportation, accommodation, and entertainment are higher here.

For more details:
Park City Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau
Utah Office of Tourism

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Coeur d’Alene, ID

Although the most revered is Lake Coeur d’Alene itself, the ice age left more than 55 lakes in and around this off-the-beaten-path destination. Boat cruises and private charters are available year-round if you’re looking for memorable and experiential ideas for your attendees.

Air travel: The Spokane International Airport, Washington’s second largest, is 40 minutes west of Coeur d’Alene.
Convention center: There’s 100,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space to choose from in Coeur d’Alene, all near the lake and downtown. The 13,000-square-foot Best Western Plus Coeur d’Alene Inn, for one, can supply meals for up to 625 guests.
Off the clock: So maybe the snowy conditions are for everyone. Here, you have the option for some faux summer fun at one of Coeur d’Alene’s indoor water parks.
Stay longer: By now, you’ve gotten the sense that these winter-centric cities offer skiing. But here’s where you take true advantage of these destinations: Invite the family for a shoulder stay specifically aimed at celebrating Christmas. Coeur d’Alene really does Christmas.
Public transportation: You can book a Greyhound seat, travel by Amtrak, or follow the Citylink bus routes. Omnibus provides ground transportation back to the airport when your visit concludes.
Cost efficiency: A late January visit will likely be the most affordable.

For more details:
Coeur d’Alene Convention & Visitor Bureau

Palisades Tahoe, California

Palisades Tahoe, CA

Palisades Tahoe, previously Squaw Valley, hosted the 1960’s Winter Olympics and remains a winter paradise. It fully embraces the skiing lifestyle, so much so, that some restaurants let diners come straight in from the slopes.

Air travel: Twelve airlines serve the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which is currently undergoing its largest-ever construction program. More than 130 daily arrivals and departures connect to 20+ nonstop flight destinations.
Convention center: There’s a reason floor-to-ceiling windows are common throughout Palisades Tahoe’s event space overlooking Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Mountain range. They provide the scenery, while you customize the 40,000 square feet to fit your needs.
Off the clock: Even the pups here are athletic, so now’s your chance to go dog sledding. Then, organize your group (of humans) to bundle ski lift tickets and snag the group rate.
Stay longer: The milder winter temps might encourage you to extend your stay. Plan a scenic drive through glacial lakes to arrive at Emerald Bay, the country’s second-most photographed location.
Public transportation: It’s easiest to navigate the city with your own car, but transportation options are plentiful—local and national bus systems, water taxi, rail travel, and more.
Cost efficiency: While there might be group deals and packages, if you plan to ski, you’ll want to prepare to pay.

For more details:
Palisades Tahoe

Quebec, Canada

Québec City, Canada

With its charming European feel, Québec City is brimming with landmark, boutique, and chain hotels. (Le Concorde, for one, has a revolving restaurant atop the hotel.) Don’t be concerned about a potential language barrier, though—while it helps to learn a few useful French phrases, many locals in the tourist areas speak English.

Air travel: It’s only 20 minutes between the Jean Lesage International Airport—where there are direct flights to many North American hubs—and the Québec City Convention Centre.
Convention center: The convention center is a top event venue, yet depending on budget and size needs, there are hundreds of thousands of square feet in other meeting spaces to choose among.
Off the clock: There’s history everywhere in this city, which was founded in 1608. Take it in with a walk along Place Royale and Rue du Petit-Champlain, two of North America’s oldest streets.
Stay longer: No matter what time of year you visit, there will be a festival, carnival, or cultural event to warrant a handful of shoulder nights.
Public transportation: An indoor passageway connects it to the Hilton Québec and Delta Québec hotels if you plan to stay warm and toasty, or venture outside, as the convention center is also only 10 minutes from the Gare du Palais bus and train station. The city’s public transit system makes it easy to get around during a business stay—pick up a pass for unlimited travel for five consecutive days.
Cost efficiency: If you want to feel like you’re in Europe—without heading across the Atlantic—then Québec City, it is.

For more details:
Québec City Convention Centre
Québec City Business Destination
Destination Canada

Winter destinations have just as much to love

And, smaller cities check all the same organizer boxes as their larger counterparts:

• Flexible meeting spaces
• Hotel accommodations
• Post-event activities

The main attraction, though, as we’ve found (besides skiing), is a celebration of heritage embedded within some of the best scenic views. If a wintertime group event is up for consideration, you can’t miss.

It’s finally here: Instant booking for groups

It’s finally here: Instant booking for groups

As published in BizBash

Discover the industry’s first integrated online booking platform for real-time group hotel rates and availability

Planners have long been frustrated with the absence of transparency in rates and availability when sourcing for their programs. The lack of sufficient data to make informed decisions results in the need to send out dozens of RFPs just to secure initial information from prospective hotels.

In 2020, when Groups360 asked thousands of meeting planners if they could wave a magic wand and conjure anything they wanted from a sourcing platform, these professionals said they wanted access to more information and the autonomy to book on their own.

Technology that facilitates online purchases has been part of our everyday lives for decades. We can now buy everything from clothing to groceries to cars—and even houses—online.

But when event planners start their sourcing process, they find themselves working a process that hasn’t changed in decades.

Leisure travelers don’t have to make phone calls and send emails when planning their vacations. They can book flights, rental cars, and hotel rooms online quickly and easily. So why has it taken so long to be able to book group rooms and space online?

The missing key to unlocking this capability has been systems integration.

Though other meeting and events platforms may claim to offer instant booking for groups, GroupSync is the only truly integrated platform that facilitates group hotel booking at scale, globally.

Here’s why that matters when you’re seeking to book meetings online:

An Outdated Industry Paradigm

Hotels and technology companies have previously attempted to create systems that would facilitate online group bookings. A key flaw in these platforms was the lack of integration into the hotels’ reservations and property management systems.

These online booking platforms instead relied on individuals at participating hotels to upload—and maintain—their rates and room availability. This time-consuming process resulted in either a lack of adoption or inconsistent, often outdated data.

Without inventory, an instant booking system is like a brand-new grocery store with no products on the shelves.

For years, only global distribution systems (GDSs)—such as Amadeus or SABRE—have provided real-time access to hotel rooms. GDS technology gives online travel agencies (OTAs) access to inventory such as flights, hotels, and rental cars. Travelers love OTAs for conveniently showing multiple hotel options and room rates in one place.

The well-known limitation of an OTA, however, is the inability to book more than nine rooms at a time. Not only are planners restricted from securing enough rooms for their groups on an OTA, but they also don’t have access to group room rates.

That’s why room blocks have required RFPs, oftentimes just to get initial information like rates and availability. It’s an old industry paradigm that doesn’t allow planners to buy the way they want to buy.

Planners should have the ability to decide whether they want rooms, space, or both while reducing unnecessary steps such as sending an RFP just to confirm rates and availability.

True Integration for Instant Group Booking

The world’s leading hotel brands—Marriott, Hilton, IHG, and Accor—along with other partners have invested $85 million into Groups360 to date to collaborate on an effective solution to this longstanding problem. The result is GroupSync.

What sets GroupSync apart is its direct integration into hotel reservation systems and property management systems to offer real-time rates and availability for group room blocks and meeting space, as well as ancillary services such as catering and AV.

While other meeting and events companies may tout an ability to book group rooms online, they may simply be pulling disparate bookings from a GDS. The only way to offer true rates and availability, as well as the ability to purchase online in a single transaction, is to book through a fully integrated platform.

A More Efficient Planning Process

As the hospitality industry rebounds from the effects of the pandemic, smaller meetings make up the bulk of in-person meetings and events. Many planners are currently juggling the logistics of multiple smaller meetings that have taken the place of larger gatherings. But searching and sourcing for a simple meeting can take just as much time as a larger event does.

More than ever, meeting planners need an efficient way to organize these small programs—and hotels need a less complicated and time-consuming way to sell their rooms and space.

GroupSync Instant Booking currently connects you to live room inventory at over 7,000 leading hotels—including Hilton and Omni—as well as a growing number of IHG properties. GroupSync is also the booking engine behind Hilton’s meetings and events website.

More and more hotel brands such as Marriott, Accor, and other independent properties are connecting their inventory to GroupSync and publishing their real-time rates and availability. With GroupSync, you will soon have access to several million rooms, as well as meeting space at thousands of properties in the coming months.

GroupSync’s search algorithms produce customized results at a glance that show which of the preselected hotels offer Instant Booking.

For larger events that require customized proposals, GroupSync Instant Booking provides access to real-time group rates and availability so you can know before submitting your RFP whether a hotel can accommodate your room block. Thanks to better, more complete data, you can send an informed RFP to a shortlist of hotels that are a good fit for your program.

Instant online booking is also ideal when you need to see if a hotel has immediate availability for short-term bookings.


Book Your Next Meeting Online

Through GroupSync, hotels benefit from a streamlined sales process, and planners benefit from immediate insights into essential data along with the option to secure rooms and space in a single online transaction.

Buy the way you want to buy through a process as intuitive as shopping at your favorite online retailer. With the time saved, you can focus on creating an ideal experience for your attendees and guests.

Get started with your free GroupSync account.