Long-awaited direct-booking technology for groups will soon be available at Omni and Hilton hotels via the GroupSync Engage platform from Groups360. Omni Hotels & Resorts launched the technology last week at four Dallas-based hotels, with a rollout planned to nearly all of its properties in North America by the end of the summer. Hilton will begin adding the technology globally this month at 5,000 hotels in its portfolio. In both cases, planners will be able to view real-time availability and book room blocks for small groups.
Omni was the first major brand that isn't an investor in Groups360 to sign up for the technology. Groups360 received a combined $50 million investment from Accor, Hilton, IHG and Marriott in 2019.
"We take great pride in being innovators in the meetings and events industry, so we jumped at the opportunity to adopt paradigm-shifting technology destined to change the way hotels have been booking groups," said Peter Strebel, president of Omni.
While hotel companies have long toyed with streamlining that
meetings-booking process, the upheaval of 2020 — and the marked shortage
of hospitality staff and resources at this time — make this an
opportune moment to roll out the direct-booking functionality.
At participating Omni properties, planners will be able to book guest rooms, meeting space or both, as well as food and beverage and audio-visual equipment, using the online platform. The technology is geared for small groups, although Omni hasn't provided a specific cap.
"We will start slowly with smaller inventories of rooms and meeting spaces, and shorter-term booking windows," explained Dan Surette, chief sales officer at Omni. "As we learn, we will expand our inventories and offerings. Each hotel will have the ability to adjust inventories as availability shifts."
At Hilton, planners will be able to book guest room blocks for up to 25 people via GroupSync, or evaluate their availability before sending a request for proposal. Planners will not be able to book event space or additional meetings amenities through the platform but Hilton may evolve the offering over time.
"This integrated booking solution is resolving a long-standing frustration among event planners — the inability to see at a glance whether a hotel has the guest-room capacity to accommodate their group," said Oral Muir, Hilton's vice president of global distribution. "By expanding direct online booking for small-group room blocks to nearly all of our properties around the world, we are creating a more seamless and reliable group-booking experience for everyone."
According to Groups360, approximately 10 percent of the nearly 200,000 properties on the GroupSync platform will be equipped with online group booking by the end of 2021. All 200,000 GroupSync properties can receive electronic RFPs for meetings.