If you've ever tried to book a hotel for a large event such as a wedding or a bachelor party, you'll know the experience isn't always pleasant.
Head over to the booking sites of most of the major chains, for instance, and you'll see that booking more than a couple of rooms gets complicated, especially when it comes to pricing and changing your mind when one guest drops out.
This week, travel startup Groupize.com launched a new Expedia-style booking engine for those looking to organize large trips and events, with an eye on reducing the number of fraught phone calls that inevitably occur between a group trip's organizer and the hotel manager.
As is the case with existing online travel agents, would-be travelers can search for hotel room prices in hotels around the world, using an interface that will be familiar to users of sites such as Priceline and Expedia, with the ability to sort by price, distance or recommended hotels.
At this point, the similarities with existing travel agencies end, with Groupize CEO Charles de Gaspe Beaubien telling Relaxnews that most don't offer groups and booking for more than 5 rooms.
"Expedia does offer up to nine rooms, but you have to pay for all of them up front and you can't manage them," he says, "you can call their group department and handle it offline."
Instead of relying on human contact, Groupize features automatic, checking availability for large blocks of rooms, making the (contract-free) booking process far less painful.
For instance, once the group organizer has selected the hotel and reserved the rooms, members of the party can be invited to log on and and submit their credit card details, so the event booker doesn't have to pay.
Once booked, users get access to a suite of tools to invite, change bookings, upgrade rooms or (in the worst case) cancel the group altogether, with all of the actions completely automated and requiring no direct interaction with the hotel.
In future, there will be another incentive to book online, de Gaspe Beaubien says, with the site planning to offer deals of between five and 30 percent over the coming months as the new 'Groupize Deals' incentives are rolled out.