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Hotel Strategies to Maximize Group Bookings

Julie Frost
September 22, 2023

Group hotel bookings supplement your income in ways that you can't achieve with individual stays. Event planners are less likely to cancel because they book rooms months in advance--and if they have to cancel, they typically reschedule. You can sell catering and other add-ons for multi-day bookings. Corporate buyers might also rent out your conference rooms, adding another sale.

Learning how to get more group business involves customizing packages, reaching out to businesses and marketing yourself differently to varied clients. People appreciate routine, so when companies have a positive experience at your venue, they'll make you part of their annual conferences.

Offer Special Pricing

Booking online with special rate

Everyone wants to think that they're getting a deal. Bulk pricing drives sales because it frees money in your customers' budgets for other essentials. They'll also build positive associations with your venue--after all, you care enough about your clients to cut them a break. You could build even more loyalty by offering discounts for repeat customers.

Work with local businesses, such as DJs and decorators. They might agree to offer a discount when customers bundle their services with their booking instead of buying them individually. Likewise, rewards programs, holiday sales and surprise promotions give corporations another reason to stick with your venue.

On the back end, foster a positive company culture to reduce high turnover rates. When employees stay with your business, clients build relationships with them that enhance customer loyalty.

Optimize Your Site

Your website is your first opportunity to promote your venue. Clients don't just want a list of facts--they want you to meet their needs and show how much you care about your customers. Start off with crisp, vibrant photos from past events that make visitors imagine hosting their event at your hotel.

List the amenities that you offer for group bookings, such as discounted prices and catering packages. Additionally, consider how people use your space. If they're renting rooms for corporate events, point out your superior room service. Show off the natural lighting and wide floor plans in conference centers. For an extra boost, showcase positive reviews and testimonials from previous clients.

Join Venue Booking Websites

Venue booking websites connect customers with local options. They enter their location, event type and scheduled date, then browse nearby venues--including your hotel. However, you'll need to create a profile to appear on these databases. Otherwise, you'll miss a large segment of clients who prefer to use one platform instead of jumping between different sites.

Sign up for popular sites, then add your hotel's name, business details, high-quality photos and other assets that market your hotel, making it stand out in the list of options. Check in frequently because some databases list your message response time. Many platforms charge a commission, but reaching new clients can multiply your investment.

Segment Your Audience

You can't host every event, but you can attract a smaller but more loyal clientele. Narrow down your marketing by dividing broad events into segments. For example, you could divide weddings into the following groups:

  1. Small weddings
  2. Large weddings
  3. Destination weddings
  4. Millennial or Gen Z weddings
  5. Formal weddings
  6. Stripped-down weddings
  7. Outdoor weddings

If you have a large patio, you might consider targeting outdoor weddings. Similarly, a high-end venue could host destination weddings, while an old-fashioned hotel could attract traditional ceremonies. Targeted marketing attracts these groups more than generic advertisements, which is how to get more group business.

Partner with Caterers

Hotel manager discussing partnership

All-day or multi-day conferences usually include a break for refreshments. You can streamline their events by offering catering packages. Instead of hiring outside companies, clients can add your services alongside their reservations. When they can book everything in one place, customers prefer you over your competitors.

To get started, form a partnership with a local catering company. Ask yourself which events you host most often. If your hotel is a popular wedding destination, talk about desserts and sit-down dinners. For business conferences, focus on drinks, snacks and light meals. Provide a few options without overwhelming them with choices, and offer discounted pricing for large events to earn even more sales.

Encourage Repeat Bookings

Many companies hold annual events, such as team-building exercises and sales meetings. If they have positive experiences with your hotel, you could potentially make the same sale every year. You might even boost your profits if the company grows, requiring more space, or starts booking your hotel for multiple events.

Ultimately, great customer service is the best way to secure returning clients. However, you could also reach out during the event season, offer loyalty discounts and help the company promote their conference, sharing pictures online and thanking them for their business. Happy clients will leave glowing reviews every year and recommend your hotel to fellow business owners.

Make Versatile Spaces

Experimentation can show you how to get more group business. Instead of limiting your spaces to a few types of events, show clients that you can host just about anything. By rearranging furniture, you could turn one space into a catering room, wedding venue, classroom, dance hall or conference area.

When you receive inquiries, show clients pictures of the different configurations. They'll see how you make the most out of your space, furniture and layout, giving them ideas for their get-together. Ask if you can take pictures during their event to show your next clients.

Host Local Events

Schools, churches, charities and small businesses hold events throughout the year. Reach out to local organizations to see if they need a venue for their events, such as:

  1. Weddings
  2. Graduations
  3. Proms
  4. Trade shows
  5. Fundraisers
  6. Conventions
  7. Business lunches
  8. Team building events
  9. Training sessions
  10. Charity auctions
  11. Art fairs

Gather their email addresses, then send them messages with a rundown of your services. These people are busy, so avoid long emails with dense paragraphs. Instead, write concise, scannable messages with short paragraphs and bullet points. End the email with your contact information and an invitation to follow up for a consultation.

Make sure you tailor your emails to each organization's needs. For example, schools focus more on dances and art fairs, while churches may have charity auctions or book sales. Similarly, reach out when organizations are likely to respond. If prom is coming up, the local high school might accept your offer.

Find Niche Clients

Target Client

A dozen hotels might compete for a wedding or trade show, but they often overlook smaller events with a dedicated clientele. You might have the perfect amenities for niche events without realizing it. For example, if you operate near a theme park, your location makes your hotel ideal for large vacation groups.

Find niche groups in your area, then adjust your marketing accordingly. These organizations feel like you're catering to them instead of seeing them as a generic source of profit. Over time, you'll become an annual destination for vacationers, shoppers, artists or hobbyists.

Maximize Your Revenue

As you increase your group bookings, amplify your revenue with Bridgeton hotel revenue management solutions. Our services include strategic planning, performance reviews, brand conversions, pace evaluation, channel distribution and other essentials customized for your business. Contact us today to talk about your goals.