Will GroupSync Marketplace act as Expedia for meetings?

Groups360 announced this week that Choice Hotels worldwide will be offering online instant booking for group guest rooms through their proprietary GroupSync Marketplace.

Instant Group Booking at Scale

Choice joins hoteliers Marriott, Hilton and IHG on the platform that allows meeting planners to direct book without the need to submit an RFP. This puts the hospitality technology platform one step closer to being the Expedia of meeting planning.

Read More: Is the RFP Dead?

The system has about 200,000 properties worldwide with more to come, including rooms and spaces in Canada. Marriott properties have rooms and space, Hilton has rooms with meeting space coming and IHG currently has rooms on the platform.

Benefits of DIY Group Booking

“Planners of small or simple meetings can book these events in real-time, with guaranteed rates and availability. Event organizers will also benefit from viewing inventory availability before submitting an RFP for more complex events. Real-time pricing and availability reduce the booking process for smaller meetings from weeks to minutes,” says Groups360 in a release.

The release concludes: “The combination of these two capabilities changes the hotel sourcing process into an instant booking one.”

To put this into context from a user, Michael Bonasia, director of sales and marketing at Hotel Hartness |Patterson Kitch + Bar | Spa in Greenville, South Carolina, told Smart Meetings that, “For a new hotel and an independent hotel, Groups360 plays a vital role in getting Hotel Hartness visible directly to the meeting planners. The Groups360 platform allows us to accurately provide detailed information about our unique event spaces and sleeping rooms to a group of decisionmakers that we may never had the opportunity to connect with if it wasn’t for Groups360.”

In a discussion with Group360 CEO Kemp Gallineau, the executive said that the system would function “like Zillow” and that Groups360 “will not replace a sales person at a property. It takes easy stuff and gets it transacted so that [meeting planners] can concentrate on what matters most.”

He also noted that three more properties (of which Choice is one) would be joining by the end of the second quarter.

He said the company would be “constantly rolling out” new value for both meeting planners and properties. He also said that during Covid, “big companies lost planners” and that the “evolving” platform came about because “there was a need to be solved.”

Destinations Help Manage Sourcing Logistics

In March, the company announced an alliance with Destinations International which would provide the service “with streamlined solutions to meet the evolving needs of stakeholders.” The company said that the partnership would “allow more efficient distribution of hotel room blocks and meeting spaces to meet the needs of event organizers.

Additionally, the alliance will empower destination organizations to better serve other destination-specific hospitality and entertainment providers with more effective means to fulfill the needs of event attendees.

Instant Booking Test Drive

When Smart Meetings tested the system, we found an interface much like consumer online room booking systems. The system has dedicated landing pages through which planners can learn more about destinations while they book properties but it had limited capabilities. That said, Group360 said it would be making this aspect more robust with evolving content on destinations that help planners make better choices on meeting venues—perhaps with input from Destinations International.