Handling Groups: Booking, Check in, Checkout
HANDLING GROUPS Groups can bring in huge revenue for a hotel but they make a lot of work. This statement is very much true as groups take up a number of rooms in a hotel all at once bringing in a huge amount of income at one particular point in time. In order for this to go smoothly,all hotel departments need to be given details of group arrivals well in advance so each department can make their own necessary arrangements to be able to handle groups.
Various departments would have to work closely together, front office would need to send out copies of group arrival list to all departments atleast one week in advance so that other departments can make appropriate adjustments to number of staff that would be required during those times. The flow pattern for a succession of individual guests is quite different from the flow of group arrivals so housekeeping has to pay close attention ensuring rooms are ready for group arrivals.
Head porters also have to arrange necessary number of staff to be ready to move a large quantity of luggage as quickly as possible so as to not have the group transport around for long periods while unloading. All departments need to have good communication during these times, listen, ask and prepare. When best would hotels accept groups and why? Groups to a hotel can include conference delegates, unexpected group of passengers forced to stay overnight because of bad weather or maybe technical problems.
Hotels sometimes are not given the opportunity to plan/prepare further ahead so they must always have a set procedure and guideline in place for un-for-seen times. Hotels would best accept groups during their slack periods, this will help to fill up the rooms and also by charging the highest possible rates for the rooms. This would also bring about the use of yield management where the hotel would be able to fill up all the empty rooms at that point, instead of having so many vacant rooms
Five factors to consider when booking groups: 1. Negotiation- particular attention when negotiating with group leader over price, as the leader will be in a more powerful bargaining position than individual guests as they are providing the hotel with large amount of business at once so group leaders tend to bargain extremely for low rates and discounted use of facilities etc. 2.
Group reservation request form- hotels needs to ensure group leader fills in and submit this form which is usually listed on hotels websites or calling direct to the hotel giving the information and also through group reservation specialist collecting all necessary information about the number in group, number of rooms, type of rooms, special requests, arrival and departure dates and times etc. 3.
Payment arrangement- the arranged package prices are transfer to the group leader ledger account, it is safe for the hotel to open a separate extras account for group members individually for them to get drinks, laundry, room service on credit if this credit was not extended and this should be clearly noted and understood by both the group and hotel departments so as to prevent any uncomfortable situations. . Additional administrative arrangements- document a summerization of details and outline the arranged dividing of hotels responsibilities to group members and that of the group leader to it’s members, this document would include if a separate check in area is provided for the group check in which would help in avoiding long queues at reception and also to foster the feeling of group collision. 5.
Couriers arrangement- when groups travel they usually have a courier/tour organiser and sometimes a driver which are free/at a reduced rate, these things should be made note of especially if the courier took care of administrative tasks as well, which would have then had to be done by the hotel own staff. Five factors to consider when checking in groups: 1. Pre registration- hotel can print off individual registration forms along with a prepared welcome package, prepare two keys for double occupancy rooms and arrange special envelopes with group keys in ascending order. . Special code reference for each group- on check in enter group code and guest automatically transfers the agreed accommodation and meal charges to a master bill, and all extras are charged on a individual account for group members if so desired. 3. Pre arrival registration form- hotel gets the individual registration forms to groups for them to fill out on their way to the hotel, so this part is dealt with even before guests arrive at the hotel, so information is only rechecked at point of contact with reception. 4.
Rooming list- hotel should obtain a copy of rooming list from the group leader in order to update individual guest profiles proving names, addresses and passport numbers into the pms system. 5. In house report/groups- immediately after check in hotel should update the system to enable all guest names, room number, special request etc, and print a copy of group in house room reports and circulate to all departments such as front desk, housekeeping, concierge, room service. Five factors to consider when checking out groups: . Ensure all group billing are prepared and billed carefully, as in some instances some group members may stay on longer after the rest of the group have left the hotel, so to ensure those individual guest are billed separately for the group rates and their individual rates. 2. Extras- making sure all other charges incurred by all individual group members are billed separately and not added to the agreed contract between hotel and group leader of accommodation and specific meal option. 3.
Collecting of all key passes to rooms from individual group members, where provision was made to provide two keys for a number of single/double rooms. 4. To enquire about actual check out times of individual group members to have various departments on standby eg. Housekeeping to start cleaning and preparing rooms again for new expected guests/walk-ins, and for porters to help remove belongings from individual guest rooms in a timely manner. 5. Hotel should at check out of groups try selling single packages to individual group members, or even family and other group packages as well.