The hospitality industry is evolving at a rapid pace. From heightened guest expectations to revolutionary new-age technology, the world of travel is constantly reinventing and re-imagining itself. The group booking segment is experiencing a similar period of growth, and the potential for hoteliers to capitalize has, perhaps, never been more imminent. In fact, CWT Meetings & Travel predicts a 5-10% growth in demand for meetings and events this year. Not only that, but meetings are getting 22.7% bigger according to the AMEX Global Meetings Forecast. Between 2017 and 2018 the number of companies organizing 20 or more events per year increased by 17%.

With the right sales and catering management technology and processes in place, hoteliers can forge the way into a new and improved group booking process that sets the stage for more events and meetings, more revenue and far more satisfied guests. But, before we look to the future, we need to address the past. And by the past, we mean it’s time to take a look at your existing group booking process. Are you still adhering to a legacy model and manual process for large group bookings? Are you adequately equipped to answer the current group booking demand?

These questions will help you to determine if your hotel group sales process if broken – and don’t worry, if it is, iVvy can help you fix it.

1. Are you still relying on manual processes for group bookings?

The process of planning and implementing an event (regardless of scale) is no easy, or stagnant task. Event planning is notoriously complex, requiring the expertise of flexible, hyper-attentive planners who often operate within tight deadlines while paying mind to countless requests and attendee considerations.

This proves especially true when we look to the group booking process, during which prospective planners have to identify, vet and book hotel properties that can not only host their event or meeting but provide suitable accommodations and customized packages. This process is, unsurprisingly, comprised of many moving parts and demands a booking process that is anything but manual. If your sales team is relying on manual methods to sort and respond to RFPs, communicate with planners and secure reservations, your property is likely in need of a process make-over.

2. Does your software allow you to effectively market your venue space with global visibility?

Remember this – meetings and events have no offseason. While the volume of transient bookings is largely dependant on the season, events and meetings can run all year. We’ve already identified the demand for group bookings is larger than it’s ever been, but the question remains – are you proactive or reactive in your group sales approach?

Traditionally, hotels lacked the technology and platform infrastructure required to effectively manage and vet RFPs and queries. As such, sales teams were notoriously slow to respond to leads and close the loop of the sales process. This was a largely reactive approach to selling to groups.

However, with new technology in place, there is no reason for your team to be stuck within a perpetual game of lead catch-up. Utilizing one, streamlined platform, hotels can finally proactively market their venue space and live group availability to a global audience. In other words, they can attract lucrative leads rather than simply waiting for RFPs to come rolling in. This becomes especially important when we look to acquisition costs, as hotels are now paying close to 15-25% of guest-paid revenue in total customer acquisition costs with several external group booking platforms.

3. Is your sales team frequently overwhelmed with an influx of unqualified RFPs?

Finding the right hotel venue for a meeting or event should never feel like a ‘shot in the dark’. And yet, until now, this was often the case. With a lack of information and appropriate marketing available online, planners often relied on sending out an influx of potentially unqualified RFPs in an effort to hear back from (at least) one property that met their demands. Not only was this a frustrating and often ineffective process for the planner, but it overwhelmed properties with unqualified RFPs that inhibited sales teams from identifying those which were qualified, in time.

Is your team constantly struggling to keep up with demand and queries, or are you ahead of the curve and effectively managing every planner request?

4. Do prospective planners have access to all the information they need to effectively vet your property and submit an informed RFP?

With new management software, your property can showcase all relevant details planners require to effectively vet prospective venues, all in one place. Rather than relying on manual methods (phone calls, on-site visits etc.), planners should have access to a one-stop shop for all the information they need – amenities, customizable packages, details pricing information, live availability, virtual tours and more. With everything streamlined and accessible within a digital platform, planners are empowered to generate informed RFPs.

5. Can you offer instant RFPs, invoices, bookings and payments?

Your group booking platform should have everything you need, in one user-friendly dashboard. In fact, companies using multiple event software solutions have 2x more trouble demonstrating event ROI than those with one, integrated event software solution. Not only should your existing system offer live availability and help your team to effectively attract and manage qualified RFPs, but it should generate instant RFPs, invoices, bookings and payments as well.

After all, modern planners are increasingly tech-savvy, thus desiring a more digital and frictionless experience. In fact, 49% of event planners use the internet as their primary method of finding a venue and this number is on the rise. This makes it ever so important for hotels to invest in a solution that empowers a more digitally-savvy (and convenient) experience for prospective planners.

It’s no secret – a broken groups and events system can drastically impede on a hotel’s ability to market their property and venue space to prospective groups. Especially in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, if you can’t quickly meet changing planner demands, you’re losing revenue (and potential guest loyalty). Ultimately, if your current process for managing groups is broken, your chances for success are slim.

If you answered no to more than one question, you’re likely losing revenue. Don’t let your venue management system hold you back and it might be time to invest in a new solution. To equip your hotel with everything you need to optimize, manage, market and report on group business, click here.

About the Author

Lauren Hall is the award-winning Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iVvy. She is a passionate entrepreneur with more than 25 years of business management experience at the Executive and Board level, successfully growing multiple companies from startup to established company. With a background in programming, accounting and marketing, Lauren’s expertise spans manufacturing, retail, advertising and the technology industry in both South Africa and Australia.

She co-founded iVvy in 2009, overseeing its growth to 1,000 clients across 13 countries and its expansion to New Zealand, Asia, Europe and North America.

Ernst & Young recognized Lauren as a future global leader of industry through the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women Asia-Pacific program for 2016. Lauren also won three International Silver Stevie Awards for Entrepreneur of the Year Globally 2016, Innovator of the Year 2016 and Entrepreneur of the Year Asia Pacific 2016 and was recently named Gold Coast Business Woman of the Year 2016.

About iVvy

iVvy offers meeting planners the ability to search, compare, book and pay for function space, catering and group accommodations online, 24/7. By providing conference centers, hotels, restaurants and cruise lines with an integrated revenue management and distribution platform, iVvy equips Venue Operators with the tools they need to manage inquiries on any device, anywhere. With enhanced reporting and analytics, Venues are provided with greater visibility over their business so they can yield their meetings & event spaces to maximize revenue.

With offices in 5 countries and a global team providing support 24 hours a day, iVvy’s groundbreaking, cloud-based software offers scalable solutions that tackle core issues faced by the travel, MICE and events industry, and continues to service the world’s leading hospitality groups, major corporations, travel companies, government offices, associations, universities and nonprofits.