It’s been hard to watch the hospitality industry suffer through a global pandemic. As a hotelier myself, I’ve seen my friends and associates experience furloughs or become laid off as hotels were forced closed.
But despite the downturn that has affected hospitality for more than two years, the crisis has also accelerated technological innovation and adaption at an unprecedented rate. New technology has enabled us to do more with less – less time, fewer people, less money – and early adopters are already innovating to meet old challenges in new ways. Our industry is poised for ongoing growth as we emerge from the crisis.
In Knowland’s 2021 “State of the Meetings Industry” planner survey, we learn that event planners expect nearly 80 percent of events in 2022 to happen in-person rather than virtually. It’s clear that there is still strong demand for group travel accommodations.
Hoteliers and organizers alike are looking for ways to renew profits, productivity, and overall efficiency in the group events space. So, what’s the secret weapon that will propel us toward the future of the industry?
Instant booking is the future
The future of booking meetings, events and group stays is instant and online—especially for smaller, less complicated requirements. We ask our hotelier and organizer clients what challenges they foresee in 2022, and the answers are the same on both sides: low bandwidth for team members, reduced response times from hotels working with limited resources, and a lack of transparency or access to specific hotel information such as pricing and availability. Everyone is craving more information and the ability to make faster decisions when booking groups. Instant booking would take this even further.
Hospitality leaders have been trying to solve this forever. At Groups360, we’re proud to have crossed that technological threshold before anyone else. The key? Prioritizing both group organizer and supplier needs in one platform instead of taking a position that favors one side over the other. Our instant booking function on the GroupSync marketplace allows hotels to sell rooms and meeting space without the RFP process—24/7, 365 days a year. It’s the quickest group booking option available today, and a win-win for hoteliers and organizers.
Just as consumers buy on Amazon and book direct for leisure travel, we also must consider how our customers want to consume room nights and space for meetings and events. We have technology that simplifies booking group room blocks and space for less complex meetings, easing the organizer’s workload and freeing up hotel resources. That’s the difference in our approach, which has successfully created technology that helps both sides of the marketplace.
Hotels need better technology
The pandemic and subsequent economic fallout have forced many hoteliers to streamline their operations and become more efficient. As a result, hotels and meeting organizers are increasingly looking to automate manual tasks and improve efficiency. But even before the pandemic, the industry sought ways to better serve organizers and reduce the cost of sales.
Groups360’s online marketplace for groups, GroupSync, makes the process of booking groups more straightforward and transparent for both planners and hotels. In fact, the platform is so valued by our industry that in 2019, we raised $50 million from four of the world’s leading hotel brands – Accor, IHG, Hilton and Marriott – to continue building technology focused on bringing the marketplace together.
Consumers want more control and are eager to take advantage of methods to solve these age-old issues. The hospitality industry would never be accused of being early adopters, but we do need better tech to move forward successfully. As we continue to recover from the pandemic, we can predict that technological adoption will increase as we are forced to change behaviors to confront current challenges.
Technology that serves the meetings industry must instill confidence that the user can trust the transaction outcome. That’s where Groups360 has been spending our time—because we believe this is the industry’s future.
Will all meetings and events be transacted instantly? It’s unlikely. Meetings of any size come with inherent logistical complexities. But can we make the process more efficient? Can we move the sales process further down the line? Absolutely. And we will because that’s what group travel organizers and planners have needed and requested for years.
A way forward
Before co-founding Groups360, I had a long career as a senior executive with Gaylord Entertainment Company, purveyor of some of the US’s largest conference hotels. There, I experienced firsthand the need for innovative new practices that would focus on building transparency and convenience.
As we endeavor to recover, my advice to other hoteliers is to take a more holistic approach to your goals. As you consider the best way to restore your business, you might feel tempted to pick just one side of the equation, focusing only on reducing commissions or generating more leads.
Instead, consider how to enable your hotel salespeople to have better interactions with the people planning meetings or transacting without any manual intervention. Groups360 will equip you with all the data you need to make a good decision. When you’re ready to buy, you will have all the data you need to make a purchase. When you’re ready to sell, you have the necessary information about your customers to personalize your approach and make customers feel special and heard. We are here to help you become highly efficient, drive revenue and create a great environment. Not only to sell the commodities of rooms and space, but the value that hotels provide, and to help meeting planners perform their work more efficiently.