How To Encourage More Group Bookings To Your Hotel
In 2017, the global market for group bookings was estimated to be more than $190 billion. (Worldhotels.com)
The type of group bookings that you offer, and how you promote it to your audience, will depend on a number of factors – including the size of your establishment, the type of people that make up your cliental, and the time of year you’re making these bookings available.
Unlike Individual consumers, who are often driven by speed, Groups who are booking tend to take more time and effort in their search for the perfect location – looking at prices, availability, services, etc. Securing group bookings, especially during traditionally quieter periods, can bring in a welcome boost of revenue, and keep your brand in the public consciousness.
The Basics You Need to Cover Before You Begin.
Before you can start appealing to guests and encouraging more group bookings, you need to know who your guests are, what they want from you, and how best to meet their expectations. Social Media, Review sites, Mobile Apps and your website/s are all areas of information that your potential guests will look at when making their choices – how you handle the operation of these channels will go a long way to determining the success of your marketing strategies.
Reputation Management is extremely important, if your brand is not seen to be caring or customer-centric, and has unattended negative reviews or unanswered questions, the groups will look to your competitors instead.
Word of mouth advertising and review sites holds a huge amount of influence over customers,
95% of leisure travellers read at least seven reviews before booking their holiday. (Huffpost)
And you need to actively engage in promoting your Unique Selling Points (USPs) and showcasing everything that makes your venue the only choice for them. You may consider using Influencer Marketing to generate additional interest in your venue, and appealing to customers through a trusted authority, or putting together holiday packages that focus on certain activities or events.
You need to ensure that your website and social media channels have up to date contact information and easy access to your booking facilities. If your venue has any accessibility issues or booking restrictions, this also needs to be clearly displayed – it will save a lot of time and prevent potential problems later if the customers have all the information they need to make their booking decisions given to them in advance. You also need to make sure that your booking process is simple and easy to find – make sure that your ‘Book Now’ buttons are in places your customers would expect to find them in, and they can go from consideration to purchase without being held up by complicated or unnecessary procedures on the way.
Group bookings can broadly be divided into two categories – Personal Bookings and Corporate Bookings. You can appeal directly to groups as a whole, by offering group rates on their hotel bookings and advertise the facilities and functions they may be interested in – such as conference rooms, event rooms, or specialised catering services. Some venues now offer customers their choice of hotel rooms when they make their bookings, which is a very appealing function for groups that want to be allocated adjoining rooms.
But if you want better success with securing the bookings, it is advisable to combine the general approach with a specific marketing campaign for each type of group.
What You Need to Secure Bookings from Personal Groups
Personal groups could range from wedding or anniversary parties, family or school reunions, social or sports events, etc. These people are not coming to your venue to work – they want to relax and enjoy themselves, connect with others and indulge in the local culture. They may have an event in mind – such as a reception, award ceremony, etc. – but largely they will be looking for activities and experiences they can partake in as a group.
To appeal to Personal Groups you should use your website and social channels to not only promote your venue – what you have to offer, what you can do better and why they should visit you – but you should offer information on the area you are located in – are there any interesting local landmarks? What events are taking place? What activities are available for groups?
If your venue offers activities or events – make sure that you advertise this fact. Use your social media channels and websites to give your audience a sensory experience that encourages them to visit – you could do this through photographs, videos or blogs. The more appealing the location is, the more likely these groups will want to stay with you.
You could also connect with local businesses to offer special group promotions – such as discounted dining at a local restaurant, reduced price tickets for attractions, or a direct line to a taxi or shuttlebus provider that can accommodate the group numbers.
Promote local events, or hold your own to encourage more bookings – especially during quieter periods. Create Facebook groups to encourage activity and user generated content – the more people can see a genuine and authentic experience, the more they will trust and remember your brand.
These groups want experiences, value and the ability to enjoy themselves together.
What You Need to Secure Bookings from Corporate Groups
Corporate Groups have a different motivation for travelling – they may be looking to host an important business meeting, hold a conference, provide training days or attend exhibitions being held locally.
These people will largely be concerned with the services that your hotel can offer, rather than the experience given by the surrounding area. From the size and location of the meeting rooms, to the ease of access from public transport terminals, Corporate Clients will want to make sure that everything they need is where they need it, when they need it.
To appeal to these clients, you need your marketing message to clearly express what you can do for them, including – how many meeting rooms or event rooms you have, what capacity you can hold, transport and ease of access, additional services (such as catering) that you can provide.
Make use of media relations – encourage features and reviews, submit articles or blogs that discuss your venue, the location and the services it offers.
Create a newsletter and encourage clients to subscribe – keeping them abreast of any changes to the venue or services, and offering promotions or packages designed to appeal to the needs of these business people.
Attend business events and conferences – even if you’re not able to exhibit, you still have the ability to make connections and keep your venue in the mind of those who arrange events and make decisions.
You Need to Be Absolutely Unforgettable – Nurture Your Social Connections
To succeed in obtaining more bookings – group or individual – your brand has to stand out from your competition – before, during and after. You need to identify your market, watch your competition – and develop your brand presence.
Build up your reputation, engage with your audience, and make sure that any promises you make or values you ascribe to – are kept. Build up word-of-mouth and digital word-of-mouth referrals and show your customers that you care for their experiences.
Dedicate time and a budget to engaging online – take ownership of review site listings and manage your social media pages. With so much agency available to them, it is the customer who decides on how well you perform online and how your reputation fares, take every opportunity to give them an exceptional experience that they won’t forget.
If you’d like to see how your hotel is currently positioned and performing online, please request a COMPLIMENTARY DIGITAL REVIEW