As the RFP process evolves in the meetings industry, intermediaries are turning to data to help with inefficiencies.
Prevue spoke with Kemp Gallineau, CEO of Groups 360, a company at the forefront of data-driven solutions, about how data can help both planners and suppliers in bringing more transparency into the sales process.
What was missing in the industry that sparked the creation of Groups360?
For years the meeting planner and the hotelier have needed data much sooner in the sales process than it’s been previously available, causing inefficiencies on both sides, and lead spam—meeting planners sending RFPs that don’t lead to sales in order to get basic information about whether or not a hotel is a right fit—has only exacerbated that problem. Before Groups360, there was no technology that allowed a meeting planner a quick glance into the information that would help them make a better decision when picking the best destination and hotel—things such as rates, availability and more. This data not only helps the planner, but it makes the sales process much more efficient for the hotel as well.
What sets Groups360 apart from other meeting venue search engines like Cvent?
First, because we have our own team of meeting advisors who sell directly to consumers, we get feedback from sales people and planners on the development of technology, helping us tailor it to their needs. Second, is the technology itself. Our GroupSync tool allows our sales people to be significantly more efficient than the average intermediary thanks to the information available through the platform. Plus, our Marketplace Advantage Program makes sure planners and intermediaries see incentives available for the dates under consideration, cutting down the need to sift through irrelevant paid placements and email spam.
How does it build the relationship between meeting planners and suppliers?
GroupsSync makes sure both parties are speaking the same language. We’ve essentially created an unbiased marketplace that gives planners and suppliers the same starting point when talking through a potential booking. This means more efficiency for the planner and higher quality leads for the hotelier.
Since starting a couple years ago, what major shifts have you seen in the RFP process?
The problem with the RFP process is there’s been little to no innovation. The use of technology in other industries like real estate and car buying has changed the way those industries react with consumers. This same potential is there for our industry, but we’ve been led by marketing bias and bad habits like spam, rather than empowering people through great technology that gives them the right information at the right time to make the best decision possible.
What meeting planner feedback have you gotten (both positive and negative)?
On the positive side, planners love our sales advisors and their ability to navigate the industry with the latest technology. Our technology users find GroupSync quick and easy to use with actionable data. We’ve heard many users ask why a solution like ours wasn’t available sooner. With all technological change, the negativity is as much about the change itself as it is the platform. Even with tools like Zillow and True Car, the days of analysts being the only ones who can make assumptions about data are over. People are wondering if the technology replaces their jobs, where instead it adds greater efficiencies to help them do their jobs faster better.
What do you think is the future of this process, and what additional things can Groups360 do to continue to make it more efficient?
The future of the process runs parallel to other major industries like real estate that have seen technology bring transparency into the sales process. Choice empowers people and also drives value for everyone that touches a business. I think the future is extremely bright. With better information, we’ll all become more efficient and do our jobs better. At Groups360, we’d like to see the industry make information around group rooms and space available so people can see it before they make decisions, which would save work for both the meeting planner and the hotel. As platforms like GroupSync grow, more of this type of information becomes available thus making the sales process more efficient.