Several startups have failed at mastering online travel planning and booking for small groups, but Groupize hopes a new connection to the TravelClick central reservation system and accompanying agreement will put the process on the right track.
TravelClick agreed to connect its iHotelier CRS to Groupize, giving more than 5,000 hotels, primarily in the US, the potential ability to manage their rates and inventory on the group-booking site.
Charles de Gaspe Beaubien, Groupize CEO, says under the agreement the TravelClick sales force will seek to sign up properties to manage their rates and inventory for small-group travel planning and booking on Groupize.
Groupize relaunched in beta as a booking site for groups early this year and hopes to move to the next stage with the TravelClick agreement, as well as those with the Wyndham Worldwide and Westgate Resorts.
"To come out of beta we need enough supply," says de Gaspe Beaubien, who estimates that the company will have agreements for negotiated rates with "10,000 hotels within the next month."
In March, de Gaspe Beaubien had talked about 25,000 properties having already enlisted, but this number referred to technical tie-ins and not commercial agreements to provide negotiated rates.
Pegasus Solutions also provides connectivity to Groupize, although without a further agreement it is for retail, not group, rates.
De Gaspe Beaubien says he also has commitments from several other chains, although they have not yet been publicized.
With Groupize, travel planners can access group rates for five to 25 rooms, book them and manage changes.
De Gaspe Beaubien claims about 80% of the work can be handled online, while 20% of the communications occurs offline.
Groupize is seeking to go where others -- such as Groople and Group Travel Planet -- have tread before and found the path challenging. Both companies winded down in 2008.
De Gaspe Beaubien thinks he has a handle on where they fell short, saying:
There are different reasons why, but mostly they were too soon online. The planners weren't ready to book groups online, and patterns have changed since then. The RFP Explosion shows how many planners are now doing their research online. Another major issue was the technology of the time and what they had to spend to try and make this. They also spent a lot of money creating social tools for their sites that now exist with Facebook.