Go the extra mile to look after the needs of your groups and you’ll reap the rewards through glowing reviews, hearty recommendations and repeat business. Use the information you have collected to anticipate what might be required when the group arrives. Here, in the second part of this 3-part series, are some simple ways to improve your groups’ experience during their stay…
Coach Parking - 50 weary tourists won’t be best pleased if they have to haul their luggage from the bus having expected to arrive at the hotel– even if they are only around the corner. If you can’t offer parking for coaches on the premises, let the group know and suggest the most convenient spot nearby where they can safely disembark. It wouldn’t hurt to send a staff member to assist either.
Meet and Greet - Further to the previous point, while most groups won’t be expecting a fanfare and red carpet, they will want some sort of welcome to acknowledge their arrival. When a manager greets a group it gives them peace of mind that the hotel is organised and capable of providing good hospitality. You can use this opportunity to find out who the leaders of the group are and open a line of communication to solve any issues that may arise during the stay.
Separate or Pre - Check-in - Using a separate desk to check your groups in won’t just keep them happy, it will also ensure you aren’t disrupting other guests in your hotel… This also allows the group to be processed quickly, easily and you can add a personal touch. If you have a rooming list and the necessary details in advance you can have the room keys ready and have the group checked in before they arrive.
Welcome packs - We’ve previously mentioned the importance of a first impression, and a welcome pack is a great way to set a positive tone for the group’s stay. A simple welcome note from the manager, room keys, information about the hotel and surrounding area, spa offerings, menus etc.…, your guests will be glad to know what you can offer. Meanwhile you can inform them of any particular nuances in the way your hotel works, saving potential hassle in the coming days from irate customers expecting a different way of doing things. This is also a good way of letting the group members know you are still giving them individual attention even though they are part of a group.
Welcome drinks - Why not go all out and provide groups with a welcome drink upon their arrival? Even just the smallest gestures will help you stand out and win you more business, through repeat visits or recommendations and reviews.
Look after the leader of the group - We mentioned identifying the leaders of the group above – it’s important to have them on your side. It’s inevitable that group leaders will field a few complaints and plenty of questions from their party during the course of the stay. By treating the group leader well, and doing what you can to make their time at the hotel as enjoyable as possible, you’ll let them know you’re on their side, making any problems easier to overcome. How about throwing in an unexpected room upgrade for them?
Luggage tags - Have these ready to ensure guests bags are delivered swiftly and efficiently to the correct bedrooms! Think ahead and save yourself the hassle of a lobby full of unmarked bags! If the group is particularly large, it goes without saying that you may need to ensure that you have porters available.
Upsell - Look after your group by letting them know what you can do for them. With all your groundwork done to create a positive atmosphere for the group, upselling will become a lot simpler. By having the group in a positive frame of mind, they will be much more amenable to suggestions of additional services on offer at the property. Those welcome drinks the group raved about? They’re available in our cosy bar, where you can also enjoy a tasty dinner. Remember, the group leader is looking to minimise their work load so they may be less averse to price should you offer to organise any activities for the group.
Questions and Complaints - Every guest will have some queries for your staff, some more than others…. But by communicating well with the group leader and informing the group of helpful details at the beginning, you can make the process more efficient. We all know some people can be demanding beyond reason, but if your staff are courteous and organised, 99.99% of the group will be happy. It may seem obvious to hoteliers, but stress to the group that you would prefer them to mention problems during their stay, as there’s not much you can do to resolve it after the stay – this also discourages negative comments on social media.
Look out for Part 3 next month, when we’ll be considering how to look after groups upon departure.