How your hotel can better manage group housing to increase revenue and customer satisfaction
After a year of devastating losses for the hotel industry, recent industry surveys point to a surge in booking activity for corporate events and other meetings for the second half of 2021. Hoteliers should prepare now for this surge in demand by adopting technology that will improve efficiency and allow you to do more with less.
As group business bounces back, one process that has long awaited automation is housing and attendee management. Adopting the right technology will help you save labor costs, earn higher revenues, and offer both planners and attendees a higher level of customer service.
Save Costs and Increase Revenue
The most immediate reason to invest in housing technology is to reduce or eliminate certain costs and capture lost revenue from groups that stay at your hotel.
Many hotels in the current environment are operating on a shoestring staff, with key players providing cross-operational service. You need to save time and energy in any way possible. A good housing solution will cut the high labor costs associated with call centers, as well as the old-school rooming list and the time-consuming manual data entry that goes with it.
For best results, the platform should sync with management systems such as CRS, PMS, revenue management, and sales and catering.
To maximize your group revenue potential, your hotel needs the ability to promote and sell upgraded room types, shoulder nights for extended stays, and amenities and other add-ons to attendees. Some tools can help hoteliers add 25% to their bottom line without any additional effort.
Consider the Planner’s Needs
When it comes to housing, both planners and hoteliers have reason to drive the process. Hoteliers benefit because they can better manage their brand reputation while providing a differentiating service to the planner.
Planners often prefer to manage the inventory in their room block, especially when certain groups place a high demand on particular room types, such as suites, double doubles, or double queens.
Both planners and hoteliers have a vested interest in receiving real-time reporting and driving strong pickup — the planner wants to avoid attrition fees, and the hotelier needs insights for revenue management.
The current process only gives hotels 30 days’ notice as to how close to the total rooms in the block were actually sold. For a thousand-room hotel, having zero visibility into a 50-room block might not matter so much. But it’s a considerable risk to the boutique hotel who may have allotted half their inventory.
Look for features that enable planners to:
- Upload rooming lists for group blocks
- Allow attendees to book and manage their own reservations
- Include information about hotels and proximity to the event
- Book multiple rooms at once
- Control inventory in room blocks before the cutoff date
- Manage attrition and adjust the room block to avoid penalties
- Add in rebates for additional ancillary revenue
- Collaborate with the hotel and see real-time activity
A tool that serves both the planner and the hotel will be robust enough to be effective but also easy enough for everyone to use.
Put the Attendee Experience First
Automating housing and attendee management becomes even more important the more complex the event becomes. Under the current process, group guests are anonymous to the hotel until they arrive on-site. This lack of guest information not only hurts your bottom line — it hurts the attendee experience.
Some planners have to coordinate housing for citywide conventions that span multiple hotels around a single or multiple venue points. When surveyed for their experiences traveling to these citywides, responding attendees noted a number of frustrations that resulted in almost half of them booking rooms through transient traveler channels instead of the room block.
These frustrations and misperceptions included:
- Lack of availability at their preferred hotel
- Misbelief that room-block rates are always more expensive
- Lack of room-type variety or inability to choose room type
- Loss of perks from loyalty programs
Attendees need to be able to easily book their reservations in a room block, pick their room types, and enjoy the service they expect from their level of loyalty membership.
Hotels should invest in modern, up-to-date technology that gives everyone the essential features they need. The end result: your property saves on labor costs and earns increased revenue, while giving planners and attendees an experience that will heighten your brand reputation and result in repeat business over time.
Jonathan Burleson is vice president of account management for Groups360. As an original founder of Groups360, Jonathan led the sales team from 2013 to 2019. He now oversees total account management for customers of the company’s full-service advisor division, helping clients find the best solution for all aspects of their meeting execution.
Originally published in Lodging Magazine.