Positive Outlook for Group Bookings in the New Year — Be Ready!

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The New Year is just around the corner and it brings good news for North American hoteliers! TravelClick’s November 2016 North American Hospitality Review revealed that committed occupancy and ADR are showing major signs of growth in the first quarter of 2017, particularly for the group segment for which occupancy is up 6.8 percent.

Looking ahead over the next 12 months, committed room nights for group bookings are up 3.8 percent year over year and ADR is up 2.6 percent (compared to transient bookings, which are up 2.7 percent, with ADR up 2.0 percent).

Booking multiple rooms in one pop is great for business, but group bookings can also be complicated with contracts to negotiate, room allocations and reservations to track, not to mention group check-ins/outs. Without a modern reservation system, the complexities of managing group bookings can deter hoteliers from actively pursuing group business, which is a shame considering how profitable it can be.

Managing group bookings shouldn’t be a headache. With the right reservation system, hosting groups at your property can be a breeze. Below, we’ve compiled a list of features any group-friendly reservation system should offer.

Group Folios

Group folios provide a convenient way to manage group bookings by assembling all individual reservations within the group into one single folio, providing an overview of bookings and balances and ensuring nothing gets missed. From a group folio, such tasks can be managed as tracking contract status, deposits, and cut-off dates, setting up reserved allocations (room blocks and rates), managing rooming lists, adding and modifying reservations, applying incidental charges and payments, and generating master and individual invoices. Group folios make checking groups in and out fast and easy too. Let’s take a closer look at how group folios help streamline these processes.

Reserved Allocations

Group bookings typically require room blocks and special rates, so it’s key for a reservation system to offer this function. Attached to the group folio, a reserved allocation makes it easy to book the group rate and track room pick-up. This function should also allow you to set a release date for any unsold reserved rooms to be released back into regular inventory.

Reservation Management and Group Check-in/out

Managing reservations is one of the most crucial things to get right when dealing with group bookings, yet this can be the trickiest task to stay on top of. A group folio greatly simplifies group reservation management by providing a single point from which to add, edit and view all reservations within a group. In addition, existing independent reservations should be able to be added to a guest folio in case any bookings are initially mistaken as independent from the group.

A guest folio focused on efficient reservation management should offer a handy group edit feature that allows staff to add and edit multiple reservations at once, including assigning rooms and checking numerous guests in (or out) at once for quick and painless group check-ins.

It’s also important that a group folio feature creates separate guest profiles in the system for each reservation so that any guest can be recognized if they return for another stay.

Online Bookings

The ability to book online is a convenience most guests now expect as part of good customer service. The same holds true for group customers.

Your online booking system should be directly integrated with your reservation system for live rates and availability, and it should offer the ability for customers to access their special group rate. This can be done through the use of an access code, which is attached to the allocated rate and allows only customers with the code to book the special rate. Once booked, the reservation should be automatically sent to the reservation system and posted to the group folio.

Invoicing and Payments

A group folio makes it easy to keep track of a group’s charges and payments, and should allow both charges (including auxiliary charges such as catering and spa services) and payments to be applied to the master invoice or individual reservations. A group-friendly system should be able to generate a master invoice (or statement of account) for the group as well as invoices for individual reservations.

Come check-out time, a group folio makes it easy to view any unpaid balance for the group, ensuring no revenue slips through the cracks.

Managing group bookings doesn’t have to be a chore. With a reservation system built to handle groups, properties can take full advantage of this profitable market. Contact us here at WebRezPro for a free demo of our group-friendly property management system.

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