Updated Jan. 19, 2023 with additional hotel company program details.
Marriott International's portfolio of hotels in the U.S. and Canada is now offering instant booking for meetings via Group360's GroupSync Marketplace. The hospitality giant is the first company to offer this direct integration and "Instant Book" functionality for both guest rooms and meeting space across a large chunk of its portfolio.
For a long time, real-time availability and pricing information for groups and meeting space has been touted as a solution to the often lengthy venue-sourcing process, a situation that has only been exacerbated by a proliferation of electronic requests for proposal and a staffing shortage in hotel sales. Cvent has been developing its own Instant Book solution for years, while companies such as Bizly have explored the pros and cons of such functionality.
In 2019, major hospitality players Accor, Hilton, IHG and Marriott invested a combined $50 million in Groups360 to help fuel instant-booking development. In June 2021, both Hilton and Omni launched automation via the platform for instant booking of room blocks for small groups. Hilton did not offer Instant Book functionality for meeting space, although Omni did offer the opportunity to book rooms, meeting space or both, as well as food and beverage and audiovisual equipment — for small groups at select properties.
GroupSync's new direct integration with Marriott offers planners access to real-time best-available group rates and inventory — as well as the option to book F&B and audiovisual equipment — at more than 1,500 properties in its United States and Canada portfolio. More hotels are expected to be added over the course of 2023. The functionality is designed for small meetings, which currently are defined as 10-25 guest rooms on peak and/or events for up to 50 attendees. Such meetings can be booked from four days out up to one year in advance, with a maximum stay of seven days.
The new platform also gives planners much greater visibility into availability in general: They can view real-time inventory availability before submitting an RFP for more complex events at all Marriott hotels globally, a degree of transparency that was not available previously.
"This offers our group customers what they have told us they are looking for, which is a much more seamless and efficient booking experience," said Drew Pinto, global officer, global sales, distribution and revenue management for Marriott International. "Our industry-leading integration with Groups360 will also allow all Marriott hotels globally to receive and respond to RFPs quickly and efficiently through a two-way response process. This will be a win-win for both planners and hotels."
Given the new Marriott integration, Groups360 execs anticipate that more than 20,000 hotels globally will be able to offer online group booking via the platform in the coming months. The parameters of those bookings will continue to be dictated by the hotel companies and the properties themselves. Hilton continues to offer groups instant-book functionality globally, for guest rooms only, via Groups360 GroupSync as well as via Hilton.com, while Omni offers the functionality for both rooms and meeting space in test markets. More integrations across more brands will be announced soon, according to a Groups360 executive.