I know what you are probably saying to yourself right now:  HotelPlanner?!?!?!?  Not that old thing again?!?!?  Those leads are garbage and they NEVER convert!!!  Well…(channeling my inner Chandler Bing)…you could not be more wrong!

With first hand experience and loads of data over years and years of using their services, I can tell you if you still have this attitude in 2024 it is because you are not utilizing their system the way it was designed. I’ve seen consistent portfolio close rates of 8.5%.  Yes…that’s on minimally qualified RFPs and on the low end of what you might expect.  But…when you use the tools HotelPlanner gives you to get the leads that matter, I have seen close rates consistently above 40% (and…NO…that doesn’t mean they got 5 leads and closed 2 all year!).  Real prospects measured in the 1000s across an entire portfolio of hundreds of hotels.

If you want to maximize this potential partnership, keep reading.  It’s pretty easy.

Who Can Benefit from HotelPlanner?

HotelPlanner is not…repeat…IS NOT a place for low rated business.  Low rated leads do exist, but not any more than any other source.  The stereotype that this site has earned among some in sales is undeserved.   

It is not just your average booking platform – it’s a kind of hero for all sorts of events. It caters to groups of all sizes AND all rate levels.  Whether a planner (or a novice stuck with the job!) is looking to book a block of nine rooms or 999 rooms, or groups with space or without space, or groups with F&B or without F&B, or any other combination it is an actual source of all types of groups.

Here are some key demographics that you can get in front of (in the order of what you can expect):

  • Weddings
  • Sports Teams & Youth Groups
  • Corporate Business (AT&T, Walmart by example are just two exclusive users)
  • Reunions
  • School Groups
  • Extended Stays 15+ Nights

So who can benefit from that?  Well…everyone.  These groups have a place at every property in some way, especially when you consider most leads are room-only blocks.  All 4 major brands can utilize this platform with no issue: Marriott, Hilton, IHG, and Hyatt.  These brands do place caps on the commission rates paid, so check with your NSO.

Additionally, HotelPlanner is also cooperating with Best Western, Choice, Wyndham, Sonesta, Cobblestone, G6, and others.

Making Friends with OTAs & More

HotelPlanner is actually the “power” behind OTA group business.  Like www.groups.expedia.com is HotelPlanner’s “white label” application managing all leads and the sales process for every group wanting 5 or more rooms.  The major OTAs such as Hotels.com, Priceline, Trivago, and more are all through them.  This is on top of the public sites they run that appeal to people searching online for help in planning group events – i.e. novice people looking for 15 rooms for 2 nights for their corporate retreat.  This means:  Even if a client submits a group hotel request through one of these sites, they will remain on the respective site from start to finish. But if you want to gain a piece of this business, you need to use HotelPlanner or take a pass on this rather qualified group business.

Top 5 Ways to Maximize the HotelPlanner Lead Volume

So this goes to the stereotype I mentioned at the top of this article.  Do junk rated leads exist on HotelPlanner?  Absolutely.  But just like spam messages shouldn’t stop you from using email, junk leads can be easily “deleted” and never bother you again.  Leaving only the ACTUAL, valuable qualified leads you want to talk to.  How do you do that?

1 – Filter Like Your Life Depends on It

And it is sooooooooooo easy to do.  Just one time and less than five minutes, you can be walked through some simple check-box-steps to get only the size, rate, and room night RFPs you want.  You can even qualify by space + rates, rates + no space, space + F&B, rooms only, even geography and group event types if you wanted it.  You set these minimums and…in the words of Ron Popeil…”you set it and forget it!”  (google him if you don’t know…)  See our simple step-by-step guide to filters HERE

2 – Let the System Do the Talking

Short and to the point:  Instant Offers are your best friend.  Like the filters, HotelPlanner lets you pick any date or set of days you want and set up an autoresponder that will instantly fire off a response to any RFP for you, including restrictions, contractual minimums, and even incentives.  And it can be done in a matter of minutes just like filters.  So, if you have a set of dates this year or 3 years from now that are just so behind pace you are “distressed”, just load an Instant Offer with a “take it or leave it” rate complete with incentives and contractual requirements and let offers fly!  And even if you are doing well but could use some help.  Use Instant Offers with a solid, competitive rate offer.  If no bites, oh well.  But if they do, they are that much more qualified when they finally reach out in person to close the deal.

3 – Simplify the paperwork process with the e-contracting functionality

Utilizing this feature allows you to manage contracts electronically, saving time and reducing administrative burden.  Enter any restriction or minimum you want, even concessions.  It does it all.

4 – Explore GNET Rate Plan Technology

The GNET Rate Plan Technology enables instant group bookings for small groups ranging from 10 to 25 rooms.  For small teams who need to concentrate on larger group needs, this can be your “automated admin” helping you book those few extra rooms to get over your goal!

5 – Consider Preferred Membership

If you join as a Preferred Hotel Member, your benefits will include: top placement in search results (think Google Ads for paid search!), reduced commission rates, personalized recommendations to clients, access to RFPs open for collective bidding (free listings have to wait for a planner to ask you personally), and more!

Cost of Using HotelPlanner

The great news is you can start with no fee to participate as a classic member. In this case, HotelPlanner operates on actualized referral fees, based on meeting planner commission fees per brand.

Additional Resources:

  • Best Practices for Group Rates vs Transient Rates
  • Account Review Check List
  • Outlook Rules: for New Lead Notification Emails, for Referred for Consideration Emails and Quick Parts
  • Useful HotelPlanner Contacts
  • FAQ

How to Set Up RFP Filters & Qualifiers:

In summary, HotelPlanner isn’t just any booking platform – it’s a comprehensive tool that integrates with you and your sales team, aligns with Branded hotels, provides you with a wide range of planners to reach who are ACTUALLY looking to book, as well as plenty of resources to help you maximize the production you will get. 

About HotelPlanner

HotelPlanner is a leading travel technology company and hotel booking platform that combines proprietary artificial intelligence, and a 24/7 global gig-based reservations and customer service network. HotelPlanner is one of the world’s leading providers of individual, group and corporate travel bookings. Founded in 2003, HotelPlanner has enduring partnerships with the world’s largest online travel agencies, well-known global hotel chains, individual hotels, online wedding providers, ancillary lodging providers, corporations, sporting organizations from youth to professional, universities, and government agencies. HotelPlanner’s family of brands includes its flagship site HotelPlanner.com, its meetings & events-focused sites Meetings.com; EventConnect.com; and VenueExplorer.com; Lucid Travel, which focuses on sports team travel; Eventsquid, which focuses on corporate and association event registration; and Cleverdis, a mainstay in trade show media.

Learn more at www.hotelplanner.com.