In the eight months since GroupSync Engage debuted, the real-time event-booking tool from technology firm Groups360 has been implemented by more than 500 of IHG’s 5,000 hotels, all 50 properties from Omni Hotels & Resorts, and 5,000 of the 6,500 properties in Hilton’s portfolio.
By the end of 2021, Accor will join that group, with more than half of the 5,200 properties across its brands—Fairmont, Orient Express, Sofitel, Swissotel, Movenpick, Novotel, Raffles, and others—using the tool.
Back in August 2019, Accor, Hilton Worldwide, IHG, and Marriott International made a $50 million investment in Groups360 for development of the direct-booking platform. In February 2021, when IHG became the first company to roll it out, Groups360 CEO Kemp Gallineau told MeetingsNet that the product’s concept “is not designed to limit the strategic selling ability of a hotel or brand" as it seeks large meetings. “Each hotel’s control lies in the total inventory of rooms and space it makes available” for direct booking over a given set of dates. In most cases, the no-RFP-needed platform “is probably going to be for events needing 50 or fewer guest rooms.”
Then again, “you can start to see the next phase of this, where a repeat customer who uses a few hundred guest rooms for an event can go in and book because they already know what they need from that property,” he added. Individual room set-ups are also customizable through the platform.
For hotels, a direct-booking platform could allow salespeople to spend more time tending to more complex meetings that require RFPs to coordinate all their elements. Also, given the attrition among sales staff at nearly every hotel company during the Covid pandemic, such a platform is advantageous.
After Accor’s mid-October announcement, Gallineau said that “GroupSync Engage will empower Accor to better serve its global markets by allowing planners to book not only meeting space but also group-room blocks, food and beverage, and audiovisual services in the same online transaction. Because Accor has a significant number of properties outside the U.S., their launch of this technology will speed its adoption across the globe.”
The one investor that’s yet to implement GroupSync Engage across any of its properties is Marriott. As of now, there is no word on when that will happen.