When you do not have a sales presence at your hotel, who takes care of group blocks?
How many of you in the hotel industry; executives, regional directors, general managers, front desk supervisors and so on cringe at the idea of a guest service representative booking group blocks? Maybe you only trust one GSR? Let me ask you a few more questions?
What is your group booking minimum? Five rooms? Ten?
What is your group block release policy ( for this purpose I am referring to a proper group block booked months in advance )? Thirty Days?
What is your cancelation policy on a room that is guaranteed via credit card? 24 hours? 48 hours?
One final question, if you can trust your GSA to book up to nine guaranteed rooms ( or whatever you policy allows ) with a 24 hour cancelation, why would you not be able to trust them to block ten rooms that have essentially a 30 day cancelation? How much does a group block releasing thirty days out hurt your hotel (especially with the booking window we are seeing today)? How much does nine rooms canceling the day before arrival hurt your hotel? How much time could a General Manager save if he or she did not need to sell the room ( when they are not working a desk shift ) and they let the people they hire to sell rooms, sell the rooms. Now I understand there are plenty of senearios where you can comment on things going wrong and what I say is blah blah blah! If something goes wrong that is on you. What, you ask??? It is a training issue. I am not saying let your GSA place the entire hotel in a group block. I am not saying let your GSA book group blocks and give the farm away on rate. I am not saying let them go wild and the General Manager not know anything about it. I am simply saying that if you trust them with one that could potentially hurt your hotel more, why wouldn’t you trust them with the lesser of the two evils. You also trust them to take care of the guest. Hopefully.
As a person that spent many days booking rooms and room blocks, I understand the many things that can go wrong with giving your GSAs a little room on blocking groups. The only way to help bring those issues to a minimum is having a Group Policy in place that is easy to understand and follow. It could be as simple as they are only allowed to block ten rooms, at a 10% discount or less, three months out, only if you have less then 40% occupancy, a proper form is filled out and you follow-up to ensure accuracy. You can add room types restrictions, weekend restrictions and so on. For a sample Group Policy visit our website. The point is to have a policy in place to empower your GSRs.
If anything, I hope that this thought process, at the minimum makes you think about how you are empowering your GSRs and how you can utilize their position to help train them for future advancement. Or even makes you think about the policies and restrictions ( like rate change restrictions ) you have in place. There is nothing better then a Guest Service Representative that is trained well, empowered and has an overwhelming sense of ownership for the property they work at.
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