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by Michael J. Shapiro | May 17, 2016

Groupize, which provides an automated online solution for booking group hotel rooms, has released emailBids, a new tool on its groups and meetings platform designed to simplify the electronic request-for-proposal process. The new functionality, aimed at smaller groups and meetings (typically fewer than 25 sleeping rooms), is based on the premise that planners and hoteliers would prefer to conduct business directly via email rather than sourcing hotels on a third-party technology platform. 

The emailBids engine helps to organize that process, according to Groupize. Hotels can use it to respond to leads in their own email system, and can attach proposals, menus and contracts. Sales managers needn't rekey RFP information into another system, and theoretically can respond more quickly to requests with customized bids.

"Our mission is to fix the mess created by the eRFP explosion," said Groupize CEO Charles de Gaspe Beaubien. "The reality is that eRFP meeting solutions were never designed with occasional planners and admins in mind - even though they are the ones responsible for sourcing two-thirds of all meetings. Traditional eRFP systems cause friction because they require planners to fill out lengthy forms just to get dates, rates and availability. Then hotel sales managers are forced to log into yet another extranet system to respond to a preliminary inquiry. We decided it was time to adapt to the way occasional planners want to work. Groupize emailBids helps them do their job more efficiently with no new system to learn." 

The functionality is part of what Groupize dubs its Conversational Commerce Engine. While the business is conducted via email, a Planner Dashboard captures all of the relevant communications and aggregates the data, allowing planners to compare bids and store proposals and contracts, all while tracking the history of the bidding process. Automated workflows within the dashboard allow planners to negotiate, receive contracts, and calculate and monitor the budget. Any changes throughout the process generate emails to all stakeholders.

The new emailBids feature is used in tandem with the Groupize Small Groups and Simple Meetings platform, which includes 110,000 hotels, 35,000 pre-negotiated rates, instant bookings, GDS integration, budgeting, automated workflows and company portals.

With the new functionality, Groupize is attempting to address low eRFP response rates, which some analysts estimate averages in the single digits. Early tests with travel management companies, agencies and corporations using Groupize show conversion rates higher than 60 percent, according to Groupize.