Last week, meetings-technology provider Groupize announced a tool aimed, in part, to combat the problem of eRFP overload -- the deluge of electronic requests for proposal that hoteliers receive every day, most of them through third-party platforms such as Cvent or Lanyon. The new Groupize tool, called emailBids, is based on the premise that life would be simpler for planners and hoteliers alike if they could just use their trusty old email to book venues. For hoteliers, it means not having to sign on to yet another platform to receive requests; for planners, it means not having to learn and use yet another tool.
After the new announcement, I checked out the Groupize platform and discussed its potential uses with CEO Charles de Gaspe Beaubien. Here are some salient points to note.
The platform is geared primarily toward the smallest and simplest of meetings -- that is, for groups that require between two and 25 sleeping rooms, and/or basic meeting space for day meetings, off-sites, training, board meetings and the like. For a group that requires nine sleeping rooms or less, without meeting space, a planner can actually book those rooms directly via the tool; for 10 to 25 rooms, or for those rooms plus meeting space, the planner can request a bid via the tool. Using the emailBids function means that all correspondence arrives in the respective parties' email inboxes. Because the messaging function is actually set up in Groupize, the messages are retained on the Groupize platform as well. (It's like LinkedIn messages: You can communicate via your email client, but if you sign onto LinkedIn, your correspondence is all there, neatly arranged according to correspondent.)
Groupize really is designed not so much for professional planners as for administrators and others who are tasked with planning these small meetings. As such, the robust features found in a sourcing platform such as Cvent's or Lanyon's are stripped away, allowing users to communicate via email and re-key only minimal amounts of data, for the sake of tracking.
In other words, professional planners might think of Groupize not as a substitute for their eRFP platforms, but as a complement to them. For corporate planners who haven't been able to track data from the smallest meetings, or who have found it just isn't worth their time to do so, Groupize could help to fill that void. Corporate customers can have a standard meetings portal, which links to the Groupize platform for small meetings and, for example, the Cvent platform for large events. The point being that anyone planning any size meeting begins in the same place, getting the company one step closer to gathering 100 percent of meetings data.
Groupize currently is working directly with travel management companies and agencies, so the technology is often white-labeled through the TMC itself. The user base is quickly expanding, though: Look for more TMC-related announcements and different types of integration in the coming months, further raising the company's profile and potentially increasing its viability as a data-tracking solution for those meetings that currently fall through the cracks of your technology setup.