Group-sourcing technology company Groups360 has aligned with Choice Hotels International to offer its GroupSync instant-booking tool to the more than 7,000 franchised hotels in its portfolio.
Choice properties that integrate with the technology will give planners visibility into its real-time guest-room inventory and the best available group rates. Planners can then book a group room block without going through the traditional request for proposals process.
While all Choice properties are currently listed in the GroupSync Marketplace, instant group-room booking capabilities are expected to be added for the majority by the end of the year. Choice brands include budget-focused Comfort Inns and Suites, Quality Inns, Clarion hotels, and the Ascend Hotel Collection of independent properties.
Choice is following a who’s who of major hotel brands that have adopted the GroupSync instant-booking for small and simple groups. Marriott, Accor, Hilton Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Omni Hotels & Resorts were all early investors in the technology and each has adopted it at some level. Some hotel companies, including Choice, only allow planners to secure blocks of guest rooms (typically up to 25 rooms). Others are adopting the tool’s full capabilities, which means giving planners real-time visibility into a property’s meeting space and guest-room availability, and allowing booking of both without an RFP.
Here’s what planners can book using the GroupSync instant-booking tool at major chains:
• Marriott: guest rooms, meeting space, catering, and audiovisual services (currently 2,300 properties in the U.S. and Canada)
• IHG and Omni: guest rooms and meeting space, but only in select markets
• Hilton: guest rooms only (meeting space will be integrated in the U.S. and Europe later this year)
• Accor: guest rooms and meeting space (begins later this year)
• Premier Inn: meeting space only (EMEA markets)
• Wyndham: guest rooms (begins later this year). Some properties may allow instant booking of meeting space too.
The next step for Groups360 is growing the demand side, says Kemp Gallineau, Groups360 president and CEO. “We want to continue to get more players to use the system so that as we evolve our technology, it balances the need for content from suppliers with the [the need for] planner usability. Anytime you take [a process from] offline to online, there are all kinds of opinions around how it's going to work. But until users start using it en masse, you really don't get to where your product is defined by your consumer,” Gallineau told MeetingsNet. “We're excited about the demand side growing so that we can get better feedback to the supply side on what content needs to be exposed, and also to give a better experience for the planner.”