Planner Pain Points: Ditch Low-Tech Tools and Legacy Sourcing Systems

by | Oct 27, 2020 | For Organizers

Event planners know all too well that legacy sourcing systems, which were built more than 20 years ago, are now too complex and outdated. That’s why we created GroupSync with the event planner in mind — to give you unprecedented transparency and control over your shopping experience and a simpler, more effective RFP process.

In early 2020, Groups360 commissioned interviews with meeting planners from corporations and associations across the U.S. to better understand their sourcing journeys. Below are the top five pain points when dealing with low-tech tools and legacy sourcing systems, according to your industry peers, along with the empowering alternative you’ll find in GroupSync.

1. You’re still wrestling with low-tech tools to build your RFPs.

“I build my RFPs in Word. The more info you give hotels upfront, the better it is for negotiating, and things just go faster. I compile what destinations the meeting owner is considering, dates, profile, guest-room rates, function space.” —Corporate event planner

Solution: We all know habits can be hard to break, like using Word or Excel spreadsheets to track the myriad details associated with an RFP and hotels’ subsequent responses.

But there’s never been a better time to transition to a modern digital RFP platform.

GroupSync aggregates numerous sources of data to show you properties, amenities, estimated future hotel rates, anticipated occupancy levels, available and relevant incentives, local weather, and other market insights. This market data ensures that you know what to expect in a given city and across a certain caliber of hotels before you send out a single RFP.

GroupSync also allows you to build out your RFPs and save them as drafts that can be shared with your stakeholders, colleagues and peers. Get interrupted by a 20-minute phone call? Your RFP is still there waiting for you. Get interrupted by a global pandemic? You can build every RFP you need for future events and click send once as soon as you’re ready.

2. You find it tedious to enter your RFP into legacy sourcing systems.

“I don’t like how RFPs work in [legacy sourcing systems] — it’s an absolute nightmare. I don’t fill most of it out because a lot of it is just unnecessary information. I think [legacy sourcing systems] were trying to cover their bases and say, ‘Here’s everything you could possibly put in an RFP.’” —Corporate event planner

“We use [legacy sourcing systems] for event management but not for sourcing. If you don’t pay for their software, you have to build out your RFP every single time and answer all those individual questions. It takes a lot of time, and in my current role, I am a one-person team.” —Corporate event planner

“I so despise what they do online that I won’t fill it out. It’s too tedious. It goes over things that I just don’t need and takes too much time.” —Trade association meeting planner   

Solution: Say you’ve already ditched low-tech RFP methods, only to discover the industry’s legacy sourcing platform is even more frustrating and inefficient. Maybe you didn’t know there were any other options. But that’s why Groups360 exists. We’re meeting industry veterans, and we’ve seen firsthand the need for something other than clunky, outdated event tech.

The GroupSync RFP process is much more straightforward. No endless fields of information you have to fill out over and over. You can save time by nailing the details and creating a more precise RFP. What’s more, hoteliers know that RFPs from GroupSync are better qualified leads, which means you receive the attention and response you need.

You can also use the Quick Search feature, which allows you to simplify your RFP process even further when you want to return to the same destination and/or property. This shortcut in GroupSync can save you even more time.

3. Legacy systems charge various fees that drive up your costs.

“We left [legacy sourcing systems] because we didn’t like being nickel-and-dimed. We started at $30,000 a year, but there was an extra fee for more than five administrators on the site, if we wanted a custom URL. By the time we had everything we wanted from our base package, we were paying $47,000.” —Corporate event planner

Solution: When you contract with legacy sourcing systems, you have to meet a certain number of room nights to avoid paying a subscription fee. And without that contract, you can’t add in the contact information for your partner NSOs. GroupSync, on the other hand, is free to qualified planners for searching, sourcing, and booking venue space and hotel rooms — no subscription fees or contracts or minimum room nights required.

4. Your search results in legacy sourcing systems are often paid ads.

“I know what’s going on. [Legacy sourcing systems] take money from hotels who promote themselves on the platform. It’s not just 100% your results, right? The first 10 are hotels that paid to advertise with them.” —Corporate event planner

“I know that hotel properties pay [legacy sourcing systems] to be placed higher in the search results. That’s a turnoff. We take it for what it is, it’s a marketing piece.” —Trade association meeting planner

Solution: When sourcing in GroupSync, you won’t see paid placements, ever. Destination and hotel search results are based exclusively on your event dates and stated priorities. Both destinations and individual hotels are scored according to how well they match your needs and preferences. This SyncScore — a compatibility score from 0 to 100 that shows how well they match your weighted preferences — recalibrates whenever you alter your preferences to show you the best choices for your stated needs.

In GroupSync, you have the option to see hotel properties offering incentives for your group business, but only those that are active during your event dates and relevant to your group will appear in search results. When you’ve selected a hotel with incentives, those incentives will automatically be attached to your RFP.

5. Legacy systems and other search tools often have unreliable hotel data.

“[Legacy sourcing systems] aren’t always accurate because they’re relying on venues to provide information. But it would be really nice from a meeting planner perspective to know when I contact a property that they’re going have availability because their data was just updated last weekend, and it’s accurate.” —Corporate event planner

“I don’t trust a lot of the stuff that’s on [legacy sourcing systems]. Floor plans can be completely misleading. But the same on their hotel websites, square footage is never accurate. When you look at the meeting space, hotels change constantly, and the data is only as good as the people who go in and update it.” —Corporate event planner

Solution: GroupSync’s hotel database is integrated with major hotel brands to ensure property data is regularly updated from the brands’ own data sources. And we’re working to become the first platform on the market with real-time room availability, beginning with direct booking for meeting space for smaller, less complex meetings.

What’s more, given the pandemic’s effect on hotel closures, GroupSync currently displays up-to-date alerts on suspended operations for nearly 9,000 properties globally. When you source in GroupSync, you will see an icon in your search results inviting you to view more information about a particular property. A pop-up announcement will display dates the hotel may be closed or out of service, but only if the closure falls within your stated event dates.

Groups360’s mission is to make booking meetings as simple and direct as possible. Our goal has been to create truly complete systems without redundant costs and clunky user experiences.

And now, you can even book a complete meeting, including guest group rooms, meeting space, catering and AV, in a single online transaction. Find out more.

Read more in the Planner Pain Points series:

Find the Right Hotel at the Right Price

How to Manage Sourcing Overwhelm

How to Manage Meeting Logistics

How to Ensure Clear Communication