For many hotels, large and small groups form an important segment in their business mix. The most widely accepted definition of a group is a reservation that requires 10 or more rooms. However, even booking a small group online with immediate confirmation is a difficult proposition at most hotels. But that’s not for lack of trying.
At the property level, PMS and sales and catering systems have been effective in supporting the group booking process. Moving this process to the central reservation level and making groups bookable through hotel brand websites has been less successful. The highly variable requirements of the group segment have challenged both the processes for group reservations and the corresponding technological solutions – with the result that they’re still somewhat fragmented.
This was not helped by Covid as the segment was badly affected. But now that business has returned to near 2019 levels in many parts of the world, are we starting to see renewed efforts to better integrate this high-revenue segment into the distribution pipes? Smaller group bookings and lean teams in hotels make this more urgent than ever.
At an enterprise level for businesses, companies like Groupize offer comprehensive meeting management solutions. On the other hand, companies like Groups 360, Cvent, Meetings.com, Hotel Planner and Meeting Package offer a platform for hotels to sell groups online.
Group 360 has an interesting story. It was founded in 2014 and received a $50 million investment from Accor, Hilton, IHG and Marriott in 2019. In 2022, they received an additional $35 million investment from institutional investors that included Blackstone.
Meeting Package claims to be the only platform that enables the distribution of inventory across hundreds of channels, uses dynamic pricing to optimise revenue and increases sales activity through real-time bookings.
Group Reservation System is an early-stage company that uses its API to disseminate availability and pricing in real time, focusing on leisure groups. Another company that has already successfully attracted capital is Reposite.
And business travel meets group booking platforms in a new guise. Troop and Spotnana, two next-generation travel technology providers, are teaming up to automate and unify corporate and travel booking venue selection and travel booking technologies into a single strand.
Another trend that I’d like to see develop further!