Most hotels require that groups of travelers (generally a group that requires 9 rooms, depending on the hotel) book a block of rooms at negotiable hotel group rates. When planning an event or a trip that involves lodging for a group like this, there are important things to know.
Hotel Group Blocks Can’t be Booked on a Retail Site
Retail travel sites such as Expedia.com or Hotels.com cannot usually book more than 9 rooms in one transaction. This is because retail booking sites have specific contracts with hotels (or hotel distributors) that limit the number of rooms that can be sold at one time. The rates for individual room bookings are different than a group rate and are for individual guests.
If more than 9 rooms are booked on a retail site, there is no guarantee that the reservation will be honored. The hotel is usually within their rights to cancel the booking. They contact the guest to make reservations through their group sales department.
Hotel Group Booking Process
When organizing accommodations for groups, most hotels usually ask that the organizer submit what’s called a Request for Proposal (RFP). This request usually includes:
- the number of rooms requested
- the number of nights those rooms will be needed
- the dates of the stay
- any other requirements the group needs (i.e. food and beverage, parking, meeting space, etc.).
Upon receiving an RFP, the hotel will reply with a bid that states how many rooms they can offer for the dates provided and the guest room rate.
The hotel RFP process is a little different for each hotel, and sometimes can differ from hotel to hotel within a single brand. Learn more about the hotel RFP process.
Hurdles to Betting Hotel Group Rates
The Hotel RFP Process Takes Time
Booking an individual room for an individual traveler can be done quickly and easily on either a retail website, through a travel agent, or directly with a hotel. However, requesting a proposal for a group and negotiating the rate is a more manual process. It moves at the speed of people rather the speed of machines and the internet.
Rates are Less Competitive
Groups have to work directly with a hotel to make their reservation, and the hotel sets the rate. Because you have to deal with one supplier (the hotel) that supplier has no price competition. Groups are not able to shop different suppliers who sell rooms from a single hotel to find a better deal.
To find the best rate, groups request proposals from several hotels near one another and look for the best deal in a geographic location. However, this involves creating multiple RFPs and following up on multiple bids, which takes more time.
Isn’t There an Easier Way?
Making hotel reservations for a group has been this manual process for a long time, but there are now tools that make navigating this process much easier. There is now hotel RFP software that can automate and manage the RFP process. Some applications can also manage the reservation and invoicing process.
Alliance Reservations Network offers group travel booking software called Group Productivity Solution (GPS). GPS automates the hotel RFP process by digitally generating the RFP based on a form submission. The software also aids in hotel sourcing by:
- locating hotels in specific geographic areas.
- capturing group booking contact information for those hotels.
- allowing the user to digitally submit an RFP.
After RFPs are sent, the application provides a task manager that keeps track of outstanding bids. As bids are received, the software reminds the user to accept, reject, or negotiate a bid.
Once a bid is accepted (or multiple bids are accepted), GPS then provides a hotel booking engine link. Members of a group can book their rooms and pay the hotel directly at the group rate. GPS manages reservations through the hotel stay, and allows the organizer to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Learn more about Group Productivity Solution or contact us by filling out the form below.