A Product Story: How Instant Booking became the new standard for transparency in group travel

A Product Story: How Instant Booking became the new standard for transparency in group travel

For years, the process that’s connected group travel planners with the right hotels for an event, meeting or group has relied on the Request for Proposal (RFP) system — a system which was, in large part, developed by hoteliers and catered to their own needs, timing and internal sales processes.

This “old school” way of doing things created friction and inefficiencies that have long been unaddressed, leaving planners shortchanged and facing hours of work to source properties without the information that would help them quickly and easily find the hotels that best match their needs.

While it’s understandable that the hoteliers’ need for a lot of specific information beforehand led to the older, complex RFP process. And to be clear, our flagship product GroupSync includes an RFP process, a process that will continually be needed as I mention further below. It’s one that has evolved to a faster, more efficient way to conduct RFPs – by providing deeper relevancy and a more streamlined process.

But now, advanced technology and new ways of thinking have opened the door to innovating a new solution for hotel sourcing and booking for groups — one that does a better job at bridging the gap between a planner’s need for information to more easily and efficiently source, and the hotel’s desire to simply and easily book the best groups for their property.

This is exactly what we set out to create when building one of the most game-changing features of our GroupSync hotel sourcing solution: Instant Booking. And while you are likely familiar with traditional solutions for direct booking or RFPs, we designed our product to be so much more than that. But before we dive into Instant Booking further, let’s do a quick recap of the more common terminology for group booking processes and their differences.

RFP vs. Direct booking vs. Instant Booking


In the group travel business, there’s a decades-long practice of sending a Request for Proposal (RFP) to all the hotels a planner thinks might be a good fit to host their meeting, event, or overnight group stay. They do this, however, without any visibility into room rates or availability at these properties. The planner has no way to know if a hotel falls within budget, or if it has rooms or space to accommodate their group until a response to the RFP is received from the hotel.

Depending on the complexity of the request, this can create a long waiting and proposal process where event organizers find themselves in limbo before knowing which hotels may be able to accommodate their needs. This process becomes even more frustrating when the request is for a simpler, less-complex room block or meeting space booking.

Hoteliers, for their part, receive hundreds (if not thousands) of RFPs every month. They must dedicate resources to reviewing and processing these requests, sifting through the opportunities that fit their property’s inventory, availability, and align with the planners needs from a rate, amenities, and service offering perspective. Unfortunately, the majority of RFPs hoteliers receive do not fit — but they still have to be processed regardless. To Groups360, this felt like a process ready for improvement.

Direct Booking

“Direct booking” describes any room reservation that was made in one instant, online transaction — no RFP waiting period necessary. Direct booking has long been the practice for transient business and when individual group travelers reserve their own rooms. But when it comes to directly booking groups (which hoteliers typically define as a reservation of nine hotel rooms or more), it’s been a challenge to create the same efficiency and move away from the RFP process.

That’s partially because RFPs do have their time and place. While meetings of all size require at least some planning, there is a difference in planning a three-day corporate offsite that requires a dozen sleeping rooms, a meeting room and some snacks, vs. flying 6,000 people to Las Vegas for a week of networking, entertainment and speaking engagements in multiple ballrooms. Those larger events will continue to rely on the RFP process due to the sheer complexity and scale. But until now, planners were spending the same amount of time — an average of 75 days — to source and book both large and small group events.

Instant Booking

Which leads us back to why we created Instant Booking. Instant Booking is the industry’s first ever direct booking option at scale for groups — meaning event organizers can book both hotel room blocks and meeting space in one instant, online transaction. It’s exclusive to our GroupSync sourcing solution, and after spending years helping to develop the feature, I can point to many legitimate reasons why it’s taken hoteliers and planners decades to figure this out. But there were a couple pain points that created our biggest hurdles:

    1. It takes serious industry knowledge, connections and incentives to get the biggest hotel brands on board with changing industry norms. Groups360 was founded by hotel veterans, and our investors include the biggest brand names in hospitality. But it took the combination of all the above, plus an incredible time investment, to bring hospitality’s big players together and agree to make such a deep, permanent change in the way business is done.
    2. We had to find a way to make it work without paid placements in our search results. Kemp Gallineau, Groups360’s CEO and co-founder, was adamant about creating a transparent search platform that avoided pay-for-play placements. Many of the legacy sourcing systems that planners and hoteliers have used until now turn out search results that aren’t based on an event planner’s preferences, but rather, based on properties that have paid to show up in a similar search. Imagine how frustrating it would be if, every time you searched on Google, you had to sift through pages of paid ads that were completely irrelevant to your needs? We’re proud to have created a sourcing solution that generates the most relevant, specific options for organizers as they’re planning their event.


What group travel planners can gain from Instant Booking:

The game-changing new ability to instantly secure a room block reservation and the meeting space that they need in one single online transaction.

  • Without GroupSync Instant Booking, planners that need to book more than nine hotel rooms must go through multiple transactions, plus weeks or even months of waiting and back-and-forth with hotels relying on legacy RFPs before booking.

Get smaller meetings off their plate so they can invest more time planning large-scale events.

  • The back-and-forth of the traditional RFP process is too much overhead for smaller, simpler events. We save RFPs for larger more complex meetings that require a lot of collaboration and coordination and make it easy to get the small stuff completed quickly.

Access to an unprecedented level of visibility into hotel inventory and real-time pricing data.

  • Before GroupSync, planners tell us they tend to book with the hotels that they know about already. But our marketplace gives you information about destinations or cities that you might not have considered before, with search results delivered via our unbiased scoring algorithm based on the planner’s needs and priorities. And here’s the bonus: this level of visibility into real-time rates and availability also helps planners send a better, more qualified RFP should they choose to do so. By having the information and search results focus on those hotels that are within budget and have availability, we are creating a more efficient marketplace.


What hoteliers gain from Instant Booking:

An automated source of group business, lifting some of the burden to review RFPs so that hotel sales teams with limited bandwidth can focus on booking better-fit, more profitable events.

  • “Lead spam,” or RFP spam, is a real thing for most hotel sales managers. Instant Booking streamlines and automates booking for smaller group business so that there is more time to dedicate toward building planner relationships and ensuring large events run smoothly.

A higher volume of group business that’s streamlined and fills key need dates for a property.

  • With smaller teams on hotel staff and hundreds or thousands of RFPs coming in every month, there’s simply not enough time to address all the requests that hotels receive. This leads to dissatisfaction and poor customer service among one of the most vital customer types — meeting planners. Instant Booking enables a planner to book without having to engage directly with hotel staff, filling up group inventory fast and more efficiently, creating time for hotel sales to focus on providing great service to their clients.


It’s all about transparency

For more than 50 years, the older RFP process has been the standard operating model for organizing group meetings and events. It’s created a huge imbalance of information that gives hoteliers leverage over event organizers — but we’re trying to show that transparency actually creates a higher quality experience for the planner, the hotel, and at the end of the day, for the ultimate consumer: the attendee.

Your Ideal Booking Window: Sourcing Too Early or Too Late?

Your Ideal Booking Window: Sourcing Too Early or Too Late?

When it comes to getting the best meeting package, timing really is everything. And due to the pandemic and its consequent economic fallout, hoteliers and event planners have been forced to reorganize and find new ways to streamline their business. Finding the right time to source in an industry that’s been flipped on its head is a brand-new challenge. It’s not uncommon for corporate event planners to fit in hotel and venue sourcing when they have the time — or to source at a specific time simply out of habit.

However, the timing of your venue search has a massive impact on your event and budget. Industry experts agree that sourcing at the wrong time can be extremely costly. Booking a program too late could affect your incentives, rate offers and attrition/cancellation allowance while limiting your options and undermining your negotiating power.

On the other hand, sourcing too soon could mean receiving less than ideal offers from hotels. For dates far into the future, a hotel’s primary focus is booking base business with full-house groups or programs requiring a minimum of 80% of the property’s guest rooms and meeting space.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the ideal booking window. It’s a delicate balance that requires a balance of knowing what your event’s value brings, and leveraging available data to help make faster, better decisions.

Ryan Morris, vice president of sales, Americas for Groups360 and former associate director of sales at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Conference Center, shares what every event planner — from newbies to veterans — can do to determine their program’s ideal booking window.


Understand the value of your meeting

A rule of thumb: The best time to source is when hotels want to sell. According to Morris, understanding the value of your meeting to a city and its hotels is crucial to lock in the best deal. One fundamental element many corporate event planners tend to overlook is a city’s supply and demand. After all, a city at 60% occupancy over your event dates will offer a drastically better package than a city already at 90% occupancy. Other vital factors that impact your booking window and your meeting’s value include the number of guest rooms and meeting space required.

Having a grasp of their program’s value was a game-changer for the National Swimming Pool Foundation, resulting in a savings of $21,000. Corporate event planner Michelle Kavanaugh wanted a unique destination with room rates under $170 for the four-day program (260 rooms on-peak). Within minutes, GroupSync found their preferred markets of Baltimore, Cincinnati and Detroit were more than 83-87% full over the event dates, with rates right at $170 and up. Meanwhile, Williamsburg, Virginia, came up with rates starting at $130-160, with lenient attrition and favorable concession packages and cancellation agreements.

Relevant destination and market data – before you send an RFP

Don’t lean on assumptions or even your previous experience in a city. Markets change all the time. What you may have experienced when booking a spring event in Denver last year will unlikely be true today. Instead, become familiar with the market occupancy and a city’s expected rates before sourcing.

Imagine how much stealthier you can work armed with this type of data for all major destination cities, including New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Diego and San Francisco. The ability to enhance the amount of data available to planners is why we’ve included projected room rates and availability — powered by STR, a leader in data intelligence for the hospitality industry — into our hotel group booking solution, GroupSync. Knowledge is power and gives you a favorable position when negotiating. Having this information ahead of time is vital to narrowing down destination and hotel choices and driving educated decisions. Plus, this info will tell you if a hotel’s offer is aligned with market expectations and mitigates the need to send RFPs just for ideas on rates and availability.

Hotel sales and revenue managers rely on data throughout the sales journey. With today’s technology and solutions evolving group travel and event planning, you can too.


Offer to sign within a tight timeline

Hotel sales managers are motivated by quarterly closings and sales goals. Because of this, they’ll be more driven to close proposals with meeting planners serious about sourcing, site inspecting and signing in a timely manner. In addition to your decision timeline, they will want to know if you’ve cast your sourcing net far and wide. How many other destinations or properties are you considering? Are they one out of 30 hotels or 10? If they have a higher chance of winning your business, they will be more motivated to offer the best package possible.

Achieving the ideal booking window doesn’t simply mean glancing at the calendar and working in reverse by several months or fitting it in when you have a chance. Understanding the value of your event and leveraging market data is the secret sauce to smarter sourcing.


Destination weddings are back and bigger than ever

Destination weddings are back and bigger than ever

You’ve long pictured the photos from your dream destination wedding: white shirts and khakis. A cotton dress. Bare feet in the sand. Eyes happily squinting in the sunlight.

But between now and putting together the photo album, there’s work to be done. First, you have to plan this event remotely, in a location you have limited knowledge of and won’t be able to visit before the big day.

But don’t write off the destination event just yet—organizing a wedding can actually be fun when you have the right resources to help.

Why have a destination wedding?

There are four big pluses to a nontraditional wedding:

  1. They tend to be less stressful. Many hotel venues offer wedding packages, with coordinators who handle local marriage license requirements, music, cake, the officiant, linens, seating, and everything in between.
  2. They’re surprisingly cost-effective. Before you dismiss destination weddings as an extravagant money-pit, you might be surprised by the numbers. And those numbers look even better if you honeymoon at the same location.
  3. You avoid family competition. Planning a wedding on neutral ground eliminates potential conflicts about hometown venues.
  4. You’re on vacation time. Spend leisure time with your nearest and dearest, or opt to party on throughout the week.

More couples are choosing destination weddings than they were pre-pandemic

One in four weddings is held in another country from the couple’s home base. Although we typically think of #islandlife when we hear “destination wedding,” insiders know this option is about more than sandy beaches.

When loved ones can’t travel, connect them with your event by going to them.

Or, plan a destination wedding with no passports needed, choosing a special location within your own country.

A note about COVID

Give your guests all the upfront information they need about health and safety. (Will you offer masks? Hand sanitizer? Hold all events outdoors to stay distanced? Require testing?)

Some couples might opt for special event insurance to cover themselves and the cost of the big day should there be an unforeseen risk. In that case, be sure to specifically ask providers if their policy covers COVID, as some may not offer protection for pandemic cancellations or amendments.

It’s old hat for professional destination wedding planners

While specifics may vary across properties and locations, the general process for working with a hotel wedding venue is the same. A seasoned wedding organizer can help smoothly navigate this unfamiliar territory for the couple.

For the Roberts wedding, a wedding coordinator assigned from their Chapel of the Flowers venue took care of all the heavy lifting — coordinating limo drivers, arranging a videographer and photographer, and even making arrangements for the marriage license.

“Paying for someone to help sort the paperwork for our marriage license and then drive us to collect it was one of the best decisions we could have made,” the bride said.

A suggestion from the experts: Do your research before relying on the resort’s onsite coordinator. A venue should be able to provide a clear point of contact and confirm the level of support they’ll provide before you begin.

But whether you’re working with a professional planner or organizing a destination wedding on your own, the biggest items on your to-do list will be the same.

Wedding planning pain points 

  • Sourcing and organization for booking venues and guest hotel rooms. Even for professional event planners, it takes an average of 75 days to find and book the right hotel for an event. Explore online solutions that can help save time researching and submitting RFPs to your preferred options.
  • Acting as a liaison, communicating with venues and vendors. It’s a lot of emails, phone calls, and waiting for approvals/decisions—a long and time-consuming process. Get help managing and comparing your RFPs to help deal with overwhelming details.
  • Have your own wedding website created to provide details to the wedding party and guests and manage reservations.

Brides and mothers-of-the-bride might take on more than they can handle

What brides and mothers-of-the-bride know going into planning a wedding is … not much. Unless they have a planner or have an interest in event planning themselves, couples generally know as much about wedding planning as their parents or friends can tell them.

This means they rely on anecdotes and individual, one-off experiences instead of, say, a decade of embedded industry know-how.

Tips for self-planners

  • Start planning early. Popular destination wedding spots book an average of 12-16 months in advance — and that’s only after you’ve decided which venue you like best. But picking a venue sight unseen doesn’t have to be a gamble; couples can use an online hotel marketplace to narrow their search and discover the best options in their destination.
  • Consider the needs of friends and family — starting from the time they arrive. Make a list of the amenities your guests and wedding party will need and use that as a guide for your hotel shopping process.
  • Finding the best deal means both the couple’s budget and the guests’ budget are taken into consideration. While it may not be possible to cater to everyone, being conscious of your guests’ limitations will help avoid complaints about expenses.
  • “Time-sensitive” freakout emails will happen, and they’ll feel urgent. If your chosen destination is on the other side of the world, expect to spend time biting your nails until you hear back. Factor in the wait time across different time zones to give yourself peace of mind.
  • If you’re new to the event planning game, you probably don’t have a great reference point for hotel room rates and event service costs — which means you’re probably easy to sell to. Knowing the estimated market rates for your destination can give you an edge when it comes time for negotiations.

The GroupSync Marketplace rates destinations based on your personal search criteria.

This isn’t to say it’s impossible to remotely plan a wedding without a professional by your side. But do keep these tips in mind as you embark on your (often-yearlong) endeavor.

What to know when planning a destination wedding

If you’re planning your own wedding:

  1. Ask questions. You don’t know the answer until you ask, so don’t be shy here: Learn what you don’t yet know. (This podcast has some points to consider when planning a destination wedding.)
  2. Use GroupSync to find exactly what you want from a hotel, down to specifically coveted amenities.
  3. Make it easy for guests to book a room. Some hotel booking solutions help event organizers create a personalized event website that keeps track of hotel room blocks, providing real-time data on which guests have booked their rooms already. If you really want to go the extra mile, you can even hire a travel agent to book flights for family and close friends.
  4. Create a wedding itinerary so your guests know what’s happening, and when. Options are plentiful for do-it-yourselfers, and pre-designed templates are available on Etsy.

GroupSync Housing makes it easy to manage guest room blocks.

If you’re a pro planner handling a client’s wedding:

  1. Invest in the right technology. Find the right venue, with the right amenities, within budget, in a remote location that you and your clients may only have a glimpse of before the big day. Easy, right? (Just in case, we’ve got a solution that simplifies the entire group booking search for you.)
  2. Streamline communication wherever you can. Use online room block and attendee management tools to make it easy for wedding guests to book their rooms and reduce the risk of attrition fees. Solutions like GroupSync Housing provide real-time reporting so that both planners and hoteliers can monitor pickup at a glance.

It all comes together in the end

You know that when you’re putting together your wedding album, all you’ll see are smiling faces, and any memories of stress or last-minute scramble will fade as the years pass. Until then, make your planning process as simple as possible with the right tools and support.

More in Wedding Planning:

Demo: GroupSync for Wedding Planners

GroupSync Solutions for Wedding Planners

In-person meetings and events are back—with some changes

In-person meetings and events are back—with some changes

While a semi-return to normal is welcome after more than two years of a worldwide pandemic, event planners remain divided about the best way to host. In-person? Virtual? A hybrid of the two?

Planners again have the opportunity for in-person business events, with flexibility due to the tech lessons learned along the way. The best course isn’t clear-cut and depends on an organization’s priorities; what’s more, attendees will have their own personal safety concerns.

Planners in the B2B space, specifically, know in-person events and trade shows drive the most conversions. While we’re all eager to see people in person again—without “Sorry, you cut out there for a minute” and “Is it my connection or yours?”—there are COVID safety guidelines to keep your IRL event safe and smooth.


Why you might want to meet in person again

First, and most notably, the severity of Omicron is diminishing. While it is still raging in hot spots, fewer cases are severe enough to result in ICU stays.

While there’s still a ways to go, the majority of Americans are vaccinated. As of April 20, 2022, 66% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, and 77.4% have received at least one dose.

And since it’s safer to meet in real life now, what’s most notable about considering a return to these events is this: the people want it. A whopping 96% of planners say they will opt for an in-person event in 2022, with only 4% waiting until next year, according to a March 2022 Northstar Meetings Group survey.

Planners’ enthusiasm and optimism is promising for businesses, which see stronger engagement with in-person events that get people out from behind their computers and again interacting with co-workers and associates.

Most companies have money to burn on meeting space and travel, too. American Express’s 2022 Global Meetings and Events Forecast survey found 64% of meeting professionals say their overall meeting budget is increasing this year.


How to make it work: in-person event considerations

You’ve got the desire and the cash, so … how do you make it happen? The landscape looks different now, so the event-planning playbook has been revised.

Here’s everything you need to know so your group can meet in person again:

  1. Update your meeting policy: Be specific about your company’s requirements for in-person attendance, health screenings, and safety measures so everyone’s prepared and knows what to expect.
  2. Find a large enough space to accommodate social distancing: Within that updated meeting policy, if 6 feet of social distancing is a priority, remember you’ll need a bigger room that allows for this. Plan your seating arrangement in advance.
  3. Review the fine print of venue contract changes: Some venues have changed their capacity restrictions specifically to accommodate social distancing.
  4. Inspect travel guidelines: Will any event attendees fly in from out of the country? The government has mandated travel restrictions that require anyone traveling into the United States to show COVID-related documentation and contact tracing information, or proof of vaccination. This might also mean a temperature check upon landing. Airlines have policies that require some travelers to show their negative COVID test or even quarantine.
  5. Allow for individualized attendance opt-outs: Some attendees will know early on that an in-person meeting won’t work for them, while others will waver until the last minute. Using a room block management solution like GroupSync Housing makes it easier to manage attendee rooms and preferences.
  6. Follow local governments’ masking restrictions, as well as venue requirements like temperature checks and symptom screening: The rules differ from town to town, so don’t assume the law at home is the same as your destination. And if your event location isn’t set in stone, you might plan it based on the local travel and health restrictions.
  7. Define your emergency course of action: Fingers crossed, you won’t need this —- but decide exactly what will happen if someone develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID at the event. Who does that individual need to contact first, and what steps will you follow to keep everyone safe?


The cons of virtual events

As you see, there are new considerations for planning an in-person event in 2022. Don’t let these changes force you into continuing to host virtual events, though.

Sure, there are pros to hosting online events: they’re environmentally friendly, and your group has likely grown comfortable with the technology. Yet the cons do include two big hurdles that in-person events can clear:


Digital fatigue = all-around fatigue. People have grown tired of attending meeting after meeting from behind a screen. Sometimes, admittedly, their attention moves to something else in another browser window.

To combat this, organizations are incorporating wellness activities, meal delivery, entertainment, games, and more special offerings to keep attendees interested — all of which add more to the overall budget.


There’s a slight difference in cost for in-person vs. virtual or hybrid events, but there’s a difference nonetheless. Depending on your event’s size, it adds up.

According to American Express’s 2022 Global Meetings and Events Forecast: “The cost per attendee per day for in-person meetings ranges from a low of $484 for small and simple meetings to a high of $851 for incentives and special events (in U.S. dollars). For virtual and hybrid meetings, the cost per attendee per day ranges from $501 for small and simple meetings to $776 for incentives and special events.”


So, is virtual event planning a thing of the past?

In a word, no. Worldwide, the virtual events market is forecast to reach $504.76 billion by 2028 according to a 2021 Research and Markets report, so virtual and hybrid events are firmly here to stay.

For one, they’re more inclusive for people of different capabilities or family roles, for whom travel can be challenging.

Second, and perhaps most obviously, tech makes it possible. What started as a pandemic stop-gap has turned into a bonafide win for companies wanting to collaborate on big ideas in a shared space.


Next steps

These new considerations for in-person event planning will become old hat in no time, so if you’ve missed gladhanding, you can definitely make it happen.

Plus, GroupSync makes planning today’s live events easy, even with COVID safety guidelines. Source available meeting spaces based on size, get faster hotel RFP proposal responses, and even book your event — all in one place.

How Omni’s instant group booking announcement is breaking new ground in hospitality

How Omni’s instant group booking announcement is breaking new ground in hospitality

There’s a rule of thumb in event planning that says the best time to source is when hotels want to sell.

While this may sound obvious, most group travel planners find this advice far from easy to follow. A lack of easily accessible property information pertaining to groups, including rates and availability, makes it challenging for planners to determine where they should focus their sourcing time and effort – and even then, legacy RFP processes create literally months of work for both group travel planners and hoteliers who simply need to identify the perfect hotel to work with.

These and many other pain points are the reason why we do what we do. At its core, our mission is to make booking groups less complicated – and Instant Booking is just one piece of that strategy. Group travel planners can now book guest room blocks or meeting space in one instant, online transaction on GroupSync. The capability is available at nearly 7,000 properties worldwide, with an additional 20,000 properties expected to begin offering Instant Booking within the next year.

And our expansion doesn’t stop there. Today, Omni Hotels & Resorts became the first brand ever to offer GroupSync Instant Booking for both group rooms and meeting space. The move breaks new ground in the business of group travel, and Omni’s rollout serves as a roadmap for more hoteliers to drive innovation

Breaking new ground in group booking

Starting with the Omni Frisco Hotel in Frisco, Texas, the capability to book rooms and space instantly is an industry first that will become available at more than 50 Omni properties in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Searching, sourcing and booking groups at Omni properties will be as simple as any other online shopping you do today.

“This technology provides an on-demand booking option for planners who seek to book a small room block and meeting space with ease and confidence,” said Peter Palli, chief commercial officer for Omni Hotels & Resorts. “We take great pride in being leaders and innovators in the meetings and events industry, so we were eager to explore the opportunity to adopt paradigm-shifting technology destined to change the way hotels have been booking groups.”

One of the unfortunate realities of event planning has always been that sourcing venues for a small group usually takes just as long as it would for a large event. Seasoned group travel organizers know that if a hotel is stuck using the traditional RFP process, it won’t matter if they’re planning a 15-person corporate offsite or coordinating a group of 500 that needs a hotel banquet room – legacy RFP processing means sourcing takes time, a long time. (An average of 75 days from start to RFP award date.)

It’s also true that hotel sales managers, who are motivated by quarterly closings and sales goals, are more driven to close with planners who can sign within a short timeline in order to meet those goals. GroupSync Instant Booking provides a win-win for both parties: planners drastically reduce the time they spend sourcing – often by 60 days or more – and hoteliers can easily fill booking windows without the sales effort by selling them online, 24/7 via Instant Booking.

“Omni’s innovation will significantly benefit its staff and their customers by automating group bookings, allowing more time to focus on those things that create a great experience,” said Kemp Gallineau, CEO of Groups360.

Learn more about GroupSync Instant Booking and its role in transforming group travel:

Groups360 raises $35M in funding to support rapid growth

Groups360 raises $35M in funding to support rapid growth

Groups360’s $35 million investment from Zigg Capital, Blackstone Innovations Investments and Fir Tree Partners will accelerate the adoption of GroupSync technology for hoteliers and planners worldwide.

We’re excited to announce that Zigg Capital, Blackstone Innovations Investments and Fir Tree Partners have invested a combined $35 million in Groups360 to enhance our GroupSync platform. The funding will help speed up the development of products that create greater efficiency in group booking, accelerate the launch of housing solutions for better room block management, and expand our operations to bring GroupSync’s cutting edge technology to hoteliers in Europe and Asia Pacific.

“Meeting planners increasingly expect their entire hotel purchase experience to be seamless, instantaneous, and online,” said Dave Eisenberg, founding partner at Zigg Capital. “Groups360 has built an integrated, intuitive platform that benefits hoteliers and event organizers anywhere in the world.”

Creating ease, efficiency and transparency

GroupSync has changed what it means to source and book hotels for groups. Hotels on our marketplace are positioned to drive more valuable group revenue, experience more efficient RFP and room block management, and receive more qualified leads. Our suite of products is designed to help hoteliers create more value in less time, with fewer resources.

As the no. 1 hotel marketplace for booking groups, GroupSync’s enhanced electronic RFP capability empowers planners to more efficiently search, source and book groups at over 200,000 properties worldwide. This single web-based solution provides greater access to hotel group inventory and rates for faster, smoother booking.

As a result of this rapid adoption of GroupSync technology, we anticipate that an additional 20,000 leading hotel properties will begin offering instant group booking in the months ahead. Already available at nearly 7,000 properties globally, instant booking gives planners the option to skip the RFP process for smaller group reservations, taking hotel sourcing time from months to minutes.

“Groups360 offers a solution that is truly differentiated in the marketplace,” said John Stecher, Chief Technology Officer at Blackstone. “The Blackstone Innovations Investments team is focused on identifying, investing in, and partnering with pioneering companies like Groups360 to help take their businesses to the next stage of growth. We believe that Groups360’s inventory distribution model and instant booking capability will help drive industry-wide transformation and can create value for Blackstone’s real estate portfolio.”

We’re on a mission to make group travel better for all – from hoteliers to event planners to attendees. This investment will play an important role in accelerating our efforts to improve group booking across the hospitality industry.

“Groups360 is reshaping the hospitality industry in a manner that makes booking groups simple, transparent, and efficient for both hotels and event organizers,” said Kemp Gallineau, CEO, Groups360. “Now, with support from our new partners, Groups360 is positioned to more quickly seize the opportunities which lie ahead for improving group travel.”