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How to Maintain Group Bookings Despite the Pandemic


Maintaining Group Bookings Is Still Possible for Hotels after COVID | Hotelogix

Before the days of COVID, there were multiple facets of the hospitality industry that looked completely different upon reopening. Two of the primary changes include the switch to contactless forms of doing business and a huge shift in the primary demographics that spend money.

For larger hotel properties, it wasn’t uncommon to have large groups of 100-plus to check in for some form of business training or seminar. In fact, many hotels relied on these large groups for nearly 40% of their business.

It wasn’t just the standard booking fees that made this demographic valuable. It was the additional revenue that came with these huge parties. They dropped thousands on food and beverage, meeting room space, equipment for presentations or awards banquets, and more, all in exchange for a group rate for a hotel.

Hotels normally had a good idea of what time of the year certain groups were expected to book as well. They would get these huge group reservations booked months in advance, selling out large blocks much earlier than normal, using these large groups as a slam dunk in the profit category.

However, things have changed completely. Now it’s difficult to predict one week from the next or when any particular demographic will be back in town. The entire world’s schedule is different, and honestly, it’s difficult for anyone to plan out much further than a couple of weeks because of the threat of restrictions or lockdowns.

At first, it’s normal to long for a return to the glory days at any business. Who wouldn’t want to go back to the past and relive days when one or two groups netted a monster payday?

Unfortunately, this type of thinking is what leads to failure in business, as it makes it difficult to adapt and move forward. Instead, we must come up with new strategies and become efficient in different areas in order to maintain a healthy profit balance.

One thing is certain – times of uncertainty have led to owners and customers demanding digital tools with strong AI to give us more efficient prediction models.

In the following article, we’ll discuss what hotel owners can do to supplement the lack of these large groups and how to ensure they’re ready to handle them when the opportunity does arise.

The Lack of Large Groups

Just because the regularity of large groups is gone doesn’t mean these booking opportunities have disappeared completely. Business groups are still traveling – it’s just on a more unpredictable scale. Use the following tips as strategies for filling in the void the lack of your regular corporate groups left while maintaining the same preparation ability.

1. Fill Your Bookings With Smaller Parties

At one point, huge convention centre tours would go on ten-city runs and sell out every location along the way. And we’re talking 50 and 60,000 capacity convention centres and coliseums.

Does it still happen sparingly? Absolutely. Will it happen on a consistent basis again? Only time will tell. We can say with a large amount of certainty that if this type of event does return, it won’t be within the next five years.

Hotels must switch to a different mindset and focus on different market segments until it does. This means looking to smaller parties and hosting the conventions on your property. Advertise your convention and ballroom space. Market towards startup and hometown-based organizations that have tight-knit relationships with whoever they do business with.

This is how you replace the repeat business you were used to before. It may not be on the same scale, but repeat business is repeat business, and this type of situation leads to great relationships.

Remaining in contact with the larger organizers is still important. Instead of cancelling altogether, many of them are just moving to later dates. Keep the line of communication open and ensure them you’re still focusing on ways of accommodating them safely.

Get ready for mixed events – situations where half of the attendees are on location, and the rest are participating remotely all across the globe. Start researching elements of technology that allow your event staff to stream these meetings to the people participating remotely.

2. Get Ready for More Last-Minute Bookings

You can’t be too upset at groups changing their mind on a last-minute basis when that’s the situation our governments are giving us to work with. It doesn’t take much for a huge event to completely derail these days.

All it takes is for one person to get sick or end up with a spiked fever, and the whole thing is done. However, this also works on the flip side of the coin. Events can be called back on at the last minute as well.

You need to be prepared for these last-minute changes, so there’s no chance you’ll have to turn down a huge booking opportunity. The most agile hotels companies are the ones that will win these battles.

Your staff must get used to working on the fly and making quick changes. Updates need to happen in real-time – when a cancellation hits the desk, it needs to be available to the next person down the pipe immediately.

3. Central Sales Structure

Currently, most hotel sales teams have decreased in size significantly and are working on a near-remote basis. This could be the beginning of an even more efficient sales strategy.

Moving forward, sales managers can work from a corporate location and oversee on-the-road, completely remote sales crews. This allows the remaining sales reps more flexibility across different markets, leaving them more room for bigger commissions.

Instead of having 20 sales reps for one hotel, sales crews will shrink to the size of five to ten reps for 15-20 locations. They can even be trained to upsell certain softwares and other important items during their time on the road.

4. Every Department Must Coordinate

When it comes to events – whether they’re small or large, every department must work together instead of operating in silos. Sales and marketing must combine for optimal results. Cooking and catering teams need to be kept in the loop on important dates and other issues. Everyone must be on the same page to generate the most optimal results.

Regardless of the size of parties you’re expecting, you need the right tools for the occasion. Hotelogix Group Reservation tool allows your guests to make quick group bookings while you easily keep track of them.

This is just the beginning of what Hotelogix can do for your organization. To find out what else we have to offer, contact a member of our team today.