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An Outdated Industry Paradigm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 This time-consuming process resulted in either a lack of adoption or inconsistent, often outdated data.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.