How to Manage the Unmanageable - Small Meetings & Groups
Bradford Jones

How to Manage the Unmanageable - Small Meetings & Groups

May 24, 2018

They’re the main driver of Meetings and Events spend, but for any travel organiser, smaller group bookings are the hardest to keep track of.

In the small meetings sector – defined as groups of 10-15 participants with less than 100 room requirements and with a total spend of under $25,000 – most events, perhaps as high as 95%, fall under the radar of planners.

Traditionally, hotels have encouraged direct bookings for groups of this size. Moreover, online booking systems for groups often lack the flexibility that planners need, so it’s no surprise that so many bookings of this type involve negotiations with individual properties.

The stats tell the story; in terms of passive bookings, groups fall in third place, behind rooms bought using internet-only rates and stays using bed and breakfast accommodation. But it’s a sector that should not be falling under the planner or buyer’s radar. Group hotel bookings accounted for $192 billion globally in 2016, with those having fewer than 15 attendees being the main driver of this.

Booking these small events has traditionally been a very manual process, with buyers often (incorrectly) perceiving that the best rates are achieved offline and that an automated booking process cannot adapt to a specific event’s needs. The manual process is labour intensive, involving emailing or faxing a spreadsheet rooming lists, the hotel manually entering the reservations, the hotel generating confirmation numbers and returning the information in an email or fax.  To make matters worse the payment process must be handled manually, too and sometimes can fall outside of PCI compliance. In addition, and maybe more important than this process being time consuming, doing it this way does not capture the duty of care aspect. Moreover, it very often will not provide buyers with access to the best rates and attendees can end up in a property they would rather not be in.

Currently there are few providers which can truly offer a seamless end-to-end process for this segment. Therefore, Travelport has partnered with group booking experts to offer solutions that mean the value proposition is the same or similar for large or small groups. Partnering with the experts enables Travelport to offer the world’s most comprehensive hotel sourcing and booking platform in this sector. 

Adding to Travelport’s existing distribution power, our partner solutions (found in Travelport Marketplace) can obtain instant quotes from 350,000 properties and eliminates a great deal of the manual work. Two-way online negotiation, flexible commission and support in 27 languages bring further benefits. Bookings can be via Travelport Apollo, Galileo or Worldspan. As an added value, our partners also offer rate audits to ensure the hotel remains true to their agreement and attrition protection to protect customers from hotel spoilage from unused rooms for their group events.

Our partners solutions can help address the duty of care aspect, because more reliable tracking means the potential for anything untoward happening to an attendee is decreased.

There are benefits for the property too, because not using an automated process can mean a time-consuming call or email from the hotel to each participant.

It all adds up to a compelling reason as to why meetings of any size should be brought under an automated system – with Travelport and its partners, it’s time to round up those non-compliant bookers and take control. Visit Travelport Marketplace to learn more about our group booking solutions.