For many hotels, business travellers make up a significant percentage of their guests and are considered valued customers. Most hoteliers have a firm understanding of how to cater to their business travel guests, anticipate their needs and ensure they have everything to guarantee a comfortable stay.
But what happens when you have a large group of business travellers staying at your hotel?
Perhaps there’s a popular industry event or conference in your area, bringing in large groups of employees. Or maybe a business is treating its employees to something special, like an incentive trip which your hotel is hosting. Trips of this nature, in particular, can be quite the undertaking for a hotel. There is a great deal to plan for these large groups, from meals to events, activities, transportation and more.
Whatever the case, you’ve probably found your hotel and staff welcoming very large groups of professionals somewhere along the way. But how can you make sure that your hotel is ready to cater for group travel?
Set clear agendas
This point is particularly important if you’re hosting a company event or incentive trip at your hotel. Outlining every aspect of the group’s stay with you and communicating it to each guest is vital for maintaining organisation and ensuring that all guests feel included and understand what’s going on.
Each guest should have a detailed agenda covering the duration of their stay, including meal times and locations, details and times of all events and activities, information about transportation options or that it has been arranged.
Other important information that might need to be included in an agenda includes dress codes, details of local attractions, key contacts for the duration of their stay (room service, gym, event organisers, etc),
A strong agenda should realistically leave guests with very few questions about their stay. This will not only help guests better understand what is happening for every step of their stay but can also help minimise repetitive questions that can be a drain on your staff’s time.
Have a designated point of contact for the group
Appointing an event manager or someone responsible for a large group is a must for hotels who want to ensure a smooth and positive experience for groups. While we maintain that it’s important to try and leave guests with as few questions as possible, realistically, people will always have questions, and when they do, it’s best to have a main point of contact for group guests to speak to.
Ensuring that each group has someone who oversees the coordination and activities, acting as a point of contact for every aspect of their stay, can leave guests feeling more at ease than having to speak to someone at reception with no knowledge of their trip.
This also allows guests to build up a positive rapport with a staff member who can anticipate a group or individual’s needs and make sure they are met throughout the course of their stay. The overall effect of having someone in charge is that it ensures a smooth and enjoyable experience for all group guests.
Attendee security should be at the forefront of everything when it comes to your group. A hotel must ensure that everyone in attendance is who they should be and that badges are checked on arrival. Some large groups may be attending events with high level and sensitive information and it is therefore imperative to ensure that there is no opportunity for an imposter to steal intelligence. Some hotels will hire in additional security to sweep rooms ahead of closed sessions.
Offer alternative options
While your hotel most likely already caters to the different needs and requirements of your guests, it’s even more important to bear this in mind for large travel groups. Large groups of guests can present even more dietary requirements, allergies, disabilities or access requirements which you must be able to properly cater for.
Planning ahead for offering your alternative options is a must for hotels hosting travel groups. During the initial booking process, the issue of special requirements must be raised so that the hotel has adequate time to prepare.
For instance, if on any given day your hotel offers one vegan and one vegetarian option, this must be taken into consideration when providing catering for groups. Buffets are a popular option for large groups at hotels, but in many instances, individuals who are not vegetarians end up eating vegetarian food options. Because of this, it’s vital that hotels offer multiple substitutions and always have extra on hand.
Food is not the only area in which hoteliers must be prepared to provide alternative options. If any physical activities are planned for the duration of the visit, the ability level and age of all guests must be taken into consideration. For those guests who are not able to participate in rigorous or even mildly active undertakings, an alternative activity should be offered. This may be a panic room scenario or even a pamper session in the spa. By ensuring that every guest is catered to, group travel clients will be left with a wholly positive experience.
Check your inventory
Meeting the needs of a large group can put a strain on a hotel’s inventory quite easily. Once a booking has been secured and all information has been gathered, hoteliers should begin checking their inventory. One major rule of thumb for the industry is to always make sure everything is well stocked – be it linens, toiletries, food items or tableware – it’s always better to have far too much than even one too few.
A higher number of guests isn’t the only reason hoteliers should have extra inventory to hand. Travel groups can often mean big celebrations – whether it’s a company anniversary, award event or lavish treat for hardworking employees. This can result in lively parties, broken tableware and damaged items, requiring replacements
Travel groups are an excellent opportunity for hoteliers to break into a new market and gain exposure. As such, ensuring that you cater to this market properly can set you up for brilliant success.