Hotel management is indeed a tricky job and requires hoteliers to don multiple hats to take various decisions. Every guest is unique and has set expectations to be fulfilled. While the leisure travellers often tend to grab the most attention and enjoy a larger share of the pie, corporate and group bookings are sometimes an overlooked factor. Travel agents responsible for organising group bookings or firms that send a steady flow of business travellers take time to evaluate their needs.
Unlike the leisure traveler, agents or representatives coordinate with various hotels to crack the best deals for their clients. Guest satisfaction is the primary motive and group planning requires a certain checklist to be fulfilled. Strategies required to boost group bookings would be different as these guests are not dependent on peak-periods. They have a well-defined purpose and can definitely add to the hotel’s revenue in the long run.
1) Identify your market
Understand your hotel property and the amenities to identify the market. Does your hotel have the amenities to attract a corporate group? Can it handle the large number of people who will attend elaborately planned weddings? A bed and breakfast for example is a small property and has certain limitations for group bookings. This can serve to attract small groups of working professionals looking for a short break from their corporate duties. Packages that offer fun team-building activities, access to a special lounge, free Wi-Fi, and other offerings will attract the right market. A boutique hotel on the other hand is suitable for events such as weddings or parties. Understand what you can offer and identify your market accordingly.
2) Keep a close watch on your competition
Once you’ve grasped what kind of group bookings is best suited for your hotel property, it’s time to focus on other hotels that offer the same. Keeping a watchful eye on the competition will give you a much broader perspective on the running of your business.
Which are the leading names that attract larger bookings for your target group? What is your competitor doing differently? What about their online reviews? Can you do something different from your competitor?
The answers to these questions will help you find ways to increase group bookings.
3) Develop your brand presence
If you haven’t yet focused on branding and marketing, it’s time to shift your attention to this area. When you market your property to group booking agents, you need to focus on the correct messaging to attract the target group. Ask yourself: “What would he/she like to know?” Online users in particular, have little time and need more information at the touch of a button.
Highlight features of your hotel (e.g. free Wi-Fi, photographs of conference rooms, outdoor activities, etc.)
Outline important details (number of seats for a conference room, outdoor seating capacity, etc.)
Bring attention to tailor-made packages
Allow group booking agents to create their own package deals
Know what attracts the market you’ve decided and update your messaging on every channel online. Work on creating impactful strategies to ensure your message reaches your target audience.
4) Focus on revenue
A large number of hotels often work on dynamic rates. However, once a hotel signs up with a firm for a corporate account, the tariff offered stays unchanged throughout the year. Therefore, ensure the rate offered can help drive revenue even during a lean season. Also, it should not lower your RevPAR during high occupancy months. An extremely low tariff cannot serve to be a strategy to attract group bookings only because of the volume of bookings generated in a single period. It’s easy to get carried away and use low tariffs to boost sales. You need to understand revenue management to comprehend what works best to manage your room sales and keep the profits high.
5) Attend trade shows and conferences
So, what are the hunting grounds for hoteliers looking to increase group bookings? Wedding exhibitions, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) trade shows, travel and tourism shows, and events such as these provide the appropriate platform. You can establish direct communication with event planners, wedding planners, corporate groups, and such. Attending as a participant for such events can boost your bookings in the long run. If you do not have the budget to host your own booth, zero in on a hotel’s representative. Ensure he/she networks at this event to forge strong partnerships with the right agents, and corporate bookers.
In this highly competitive environment, hoteliers need to go the extra mile to capture attention and attract guests. Within time, you’ll find it easy to attract bookings, reduce costs and increase revenue for your hotel property.