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Direct-Booking Platform for Events Gets Big Financial Boost

Groups360 receives $35 million from private-equity firms to further develop its GroupSync product—an amount that rivals the initial $50 million provided by four hotel companies in 2019.

GroupSync, a one-year-old online platform that shows real-time guest-room and event-space availability at hotels and allows instant booking without using an RFP, was allotted $35 million in early April by three private-investment companies.

GroupSync is already in use by more than 7,000 Accor, Hilton, IHG, and Omni properties around the world, but platform owner Groups360 will use much of the new funding from Zigg Capital, Blackstone Innovations, and Fir Tree Partners to grow the platform’s operations further in Europe and Pacific Asia. Specifically, “we have a backlog of hospitality customers waiting to get on the channel,” says Kemp Gallineau, CEO of Groups360. “So we are spending more time and money on technology integration” to allow data to move between each hotel chain’s inventory and reservation system and the direct-booking platform.

Further, Gallineau says that “we need to create some additional technology for our European and APAC customers in order to flow other content that planners want,” including meeting-specific photos. “Also, we're going to help both suppliers and planners get closer to the audience by allowing each attendee to be identified not just as a member of a meeting group but as an individual—gathering data such as their rewards-program status" plus other traits and preferences.

Launched in February 2021, GroupSync is mainly focused on servicing meetings of up to 50 attendees that aren’t sufficiently complex to require an RFP or interaction with a hotel sales rep.

Of the four hotel companies that collectively provided $50 million to Groups360 in 2019—Accor, Hilton, IHG, and Marriott International—only Marriott has yet to connect its hotels to the GroupSync platform. Gallineau says that “it just takes longer for some of the bigger brands to create the API [application programming interface] that allows them to expose their content to customers.” A date has not been set for Marriott’s brands to be available on the GroupSync platform.

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