First there was the online request for proposal,
and now this: A handful of online companies offer group booking
from site selection to a sealed deal. The sites work like Expedia
and Orbitz, allowing small, no-frills groups to reserve rooms and
space in a few clicks.
To see if they deliver, M&C
test-drove three by
attempting to book 25 rooms in Washington, D.C., for an imaginary
event, March 21-23, 2006. Groople.com.
Mac users beware: You
will need the latest version of Firefox to run this program. PC
users can use Internet Explorer. The site is visually pleasing and
user-friendly, but results were disappointing. Of the five hotels
suggested, three did not offer online group rates, instead
instructing the user to call the hotel. Two had no availability. On
the plus side, the site allows searches without having to create an
This one can search for
a property using criteria such as distance from downtown, overall
star rating and room rate. You have to create an account to get
started, but it is possible to select options based on type of
group (reunion, military, religious, etc.), along with discounts
and concessions (e.g., one complimentary room per 25 booked), and a
rate guarantee is stated on the site. Hotelplanner.com.
Expect to input as much
detail as in an online RFP. Maximum room rate, F&B needs and
meeting space are just some of the required fields. Multiple kinds
of events can be booked, such as senior-
citizen groups and corporate/incentive meetings.