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. You only get one chance to make a first impression – for hotels, this occurs during the planning stages of a group trip.
Here, in the first part of this 3-part series, are some simple ways to improve your groups’ experience prior to their arrival…
Communication - From your first interaction with a potential customer, communicate and respond in a clear, efficient and timely manner. Don’t make assumptions – go through the details and pre-empt potential issues. Ask about a group’s reason for travel. If it’s a special occasion, an anniversary or a birthday, consider how you could exceed their expectations – a card or glass of Prosecco on arrival perhaps? You never know, this may lead to further revenue opportunities if they decide to order a bottle!
Arrival / Departure Details - In the build up to the trip, make sure you know exactly when your group intends to arrive and depart, and plan accordingly. If arriving by air, get flight numbers; if arriving by bus, ask for the driver’s phone number so you can be in direct contact on the day of arrival.
Clear Agreement with the Group - Ensure a clear payment and cancellation plan has been established, including flexibility for amendments to the booking where possible. Expectations of both the group and the hotel must be shared, otherwise misunderstandings will arise.
Dietary Requirements and Menu Planning - Try to find out any special dietary requirements in advance and be ready to cater for them. Are any group members lactose intolerant, diabetic, vegetarian or vegan? Sports groups may appreciate high protein / high carb options, whereas some religious groups may require Kosher or Halal foods. If the group are dining with you more than once, consider changing the menu to give them some variety. Send sample menus to the group organiser (though emphasise these are only sample menus, just in case changes to the menu are made).
Room Requirements - Do the group want their rooms to be situated together or apart? Do any rooms need to be wheelchair accessible? Exceed a group’s expectations by pre-empting their needs. If a group includes babies and young children, for example, ensure you have cots and camp beds at the ready.
Activity Planning - Be generous with upsell offers, such as wine or spa treatments, and plan rainy day activities. The last thing you need is a miserable group, confined to your hotel because of bad weather, with nothing to keep them occupied or entertained. Think films, spa, cocktail making, etc.
Look out for Part 2 next month, when we’ll be considering how to look after groups on arrival and during their stay.