The hotel industry isn’t just about leisure business. Corporate and group bookings form an important segment of your revenue, especially if your hotel is equipped with meeting space.
These direct hotel bookings generate revenue, streamline operations, and give you a steady occupancy rate.
Corporate Hotel Booking and Group Hotel Booking: What’s the Difference?
Corporate and group hotel bookings are similar—but not the same.
While corporate bookings are a type of group booking, not all group bookings are corporate bookings. Let’s look at this in more detail:
Corporate Hotel Bookings
Corporate hotel bookings are essential for businesses when multiple individuals are traveling in a group for various business purposes. They could be attending a conference, sealing a significant deal, or conducting important client meetings. These bookings are typically arranged by organizations for their employees, clients or associates.
Group Hotel Bookings
Group hotel bookings, on the other hand, involve making hotel reservations for several individuals traveling together for a common purpose. While these could be corporate bookings, they could also come from the SMERF market (no, not the blue cartoon characters). SMERF stands for Social, Military, Educational, Religious, and Fraternal groups. So, think of family reunions, school sports team gatherings, and even wedding parties seeking a large suite or a number of rooms tailored to their group size. Booking by group size ensures that everyone can stay together and enjoy the convenience of spacious accommodations, whether it's large rooms or a specific number of rooms to accommodate the entire group comfortably.
The top channels for group and corporate hotel bookings vary greatly depending on the specific needs of businesses or groups. Some of the most popular ones are:
Hotel websites and direct bookings
Corporate travel agencies
Group booking platforms
Online travel agencies
Travel management companies
Meeting and event planners
Your audience for corporate and group hotel bookings
Your audience for corporate and group bookings is event planners. But to which type do you need to market and sell?
Well, that depends on the segment. Corporate event planners book meetings and events for businesses and corporations. Wedding planners—you guessed it—organize weddings. Social event planners organize celebrations like birthdays or engagements.
Nonprofit event planners organize fundraisers, galas, charity auctions, and awareness campaigns. And third-party planners organize a wide range of meetings and events for a whole host of clients.
Each type of planner will have different challenges and needs. So it’s important to adapt your strategy accordingly.
Importance of Corporate and Group Bookings
Corporate and group bookings are an important business segment for your hotel and bring in a lot of revenue. Here are a few benefits these bookings can have on your business:
Revenue generation: Corporate and group bookings are often business trips, and tend to involve a larger number of rooms and longer stays—translating to higher revenue. Ensure your hotel offers pre-negotiated agreements with extended stays that benefit both parties.
Consistent occupancy: Corporate and group travelers often stay for longer durations compared to individual leisure travelers. This longer length of stay helps you maintain higher occupancy rates, even during off-peak seasons. Offering attractive guest room rates encourages their extended stay.
Filling room blocks: You might have a certain number of rooms that need to be filled to maintain profitability. Corporate and group bookings help fill these room blocks, reducing the risk of revenue loss due to empty rooms.
Negotiated contracts: Corporations and groups often negotiate rates based on the volume of business they bring to your hotel. While these rates might be lower than standard rates, the consistent business flow compensates for the reduced price per room. Effective pre-negotiation ensures mutually beneficial terms for all parties involved.
Diversification of client base: Relying solely on individual travelers can make a hotel vulnerable to fluctuations in leisure travel demand. Corporate and group bookings diversify the customer base, reducing the impact of market fluctuations.
Upsells and add-ons during the booking process
Corporate and group bookings are naturally larger than your average bookings, presenting a sizable opportunity for your hotel to drive upsell and add-onrevenue. Some of the most popular upsell examples include:
Room upgrade packages
Parking (if on-site parking is available)
Discount vouchers for local businesses
Daily housekeeping services
Food & beverage services (even without a restaurant)
There are plenty of hotel upselling scripts to consider training your front-desk staff team on. Still, for some employees, upselling can feel unnatural and awkward. If your team prefers a more digital-first approach, consider streamlining the upselling through a user-friendly software platform like Canary.
With Canary Upsells, hoteliers can intelligently offer upsells to guests throughout their journey. Upsells can be purchased from the time of booking through checkout, resulting in thousands of dollars in new revenue per week.
"It’s basically free money. Last month, we had £10,000 in upsell requests.” - Andrei Ticau
9 Steps to Increasing Your Hotel and Group Bookings
Understand Your Target Market
The first step to increasing your hotel and group bookings is to understand your target market (or markets). But what does this mean?
As we mentioned, your audience is event planners—but there are many types of event planners. The type of event planner and event you should target depends on your hotel.
For example, an airport hotel might be well suited to corporate bookings due to ease of travel. But an elegant or funky boutique hotel might be more suited to high-end events, weddings, or birthday parties.
Once you know your audiences, analyze their preferences, challenges, and needs.
Most event planners are busy. They need you to take as much off their plate as possible. A great way to do this is to invest in technology that will make their lives easier, such as guest messaging, event diagramming, and room blocking.
Next up: identifying potential booking seasons and patterns. Find out which months are the busiest for your selected audience. In general, spring and fall are the busiest for corporate and group bookings. The weather is pleasant and planners like to avoid booking meetings/events during peak summer and winter travel seasons.
Build a Competitive Offer
Building a competitive offer gives you a good chance of winning corporate and group bookings. This means tailoring room packages and rates to suit event planners and their attendees. There are a few ways you could do this:
Customizable options: Allow clients to customize aspects such as meeting room setups, catering options, audiovisual equipment, and additional services to match their specific needs.
Add-ons and upgrades: Offer additional services or upgrades that clients can choose to enhance their experience. This could include spa treatments, team-building activities, private dinners, airport transfers, or city tours.
Competitive rates: Research the pricing strategies of competitors and set your corporate rates and group rates competitively. Thoroughly research and establish highly competitive hotel rates that allow businesses to save significant money. Consider partnering with credit card companies to offer exclusive discounts or rewards for bookings made with specific credit cards.
Incorporate useful tech: Include technology event planners might appreciate in your packages like room diagramming or messaging technology.
Develop Strategic Partnerships
Partnering with local businesses will give you a symbiotic relationship where both parties support each other. The result could be enhanced guest experiences, increased revenue from cross-promotion, and even stronger communities.
Convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs)
Convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) are an important resource for small as well as major hotel chains looking to increase their group and corporate bookings.
A CVB is an organization dedicated to tourism, conventions, and other beneficial activities within their local area. These organizations have extensive reach and access to your ideal group prospects.
Having a good relationship with your local CVB means should they receive a group enquiry, you’re more likely to be top of the pile.
Partnering with local printing services not only benefits you but also your event planner clients. Negotiating terms that work for you and the printing service gives you a reliable place for all your printing needs, whether it be menus, brochures, or stationary.
And that’s not all. If you host events, chances are event planners will need some last-minute printing done. Utilizing your favorite printer to print materials and deliver on-site could alleviate some last-minute stress—which they should thank you for.
Local produce suppliers (sustainability)
Incorporating locally sourced produce into hotel dining offerings isn't just about food—it's about creating a well-rounded guest experience that celebrates the destination, supports local businesses, and aligns with sustainable practices.
Enhance Your Digital Presence
You likely utilize online travel agencies (OTAs) for your leisure bookings, but how do you boost your digital presence where group and corporate bookings are concerned? Here’s how:
Optimize your hotel website for corporate and group bookings
Having a section on your website solely dedicated to meetings and events will help planners understand sooner if your venue is right for them. Include descriptions of all your meeting spaces as well as floor plans and virtual tours. Giving all of the information upfront will help you bring in better-qualified leads and filter out the duds.
Leverage social media and OTAs
Making yourself visible on social media and group-dedicated OTAs such as the Cvent Supplier Network will help you stand out and capture more business.
Video content is king. Post TikToks and YouTube videos dedicated to your meeting spaces. You could even provide informational content, designed to help event planners with their jobs.
Build a Strong Sales Team
The strength of your sales team will determine the health of your group and corporate business. Hire the right people and you could find yourself with a thriving group segment.
First, hire experienced sales professionals as the backbone of your team. Make sure these people can sell. They’ll need to understand your business and what you offer inside and out. It’s all about technique and a bit of charisma.
Developing comprehensive training and onboarding is also vital. This will help you establish clear targets and ensure your representatives perform at their best.
Provide Exceptional Customer Service
Customer service is the lifeblood of hospitality and it applies to each of your segments, whether it be leisure, group, or corporate travel. Here’s how you can deliver exceptional levels of customer service to your event planners:
Offer personalized experiences to corporate and group clients: Personalized guest experience is a great way to make your client feel valued. Try to personalize every experience through things such as customized room diagramming.
Anticipate and exceed guest expectations: Understanding your audience and your clients will help you anticipate their needs and exceed expectations.
Provide prompt and efficient communication channels: A large part of customer service comes down to professionalism and responsiveness. Messaging technology can help open an avenue for easy, direct communication between yourself and your client.
Don’t underestimate the power of positive reviews and testimonials. For many, reviews are an important indicator of quality—no matter the product or service. For hotels, reviews have become a large part of the guest’s decision to book directly with you. And the same can be said for your event planners.
Encouraging satisfied corporate and group clients to leave positive online Google reviews is a good first step, but why not go further?
Collect video or written testimonials during your events—or better yet: capture the essence of your clients’ events by editing footage together. When event planners see happy attendees in a warm, inviting event space, they’ll be more likely to book with you.
Then, utilize these videos on your hotel website and social media platforms.
Participate in Industry Trade Shows and Events
Industry trade shows and events give you a fantastic opportunity to network with decision-makers, learn new skills, and discover the latest trends in hospitality. They also allow you to showcase your property and event space to as many people as possible. And this means more group and corporate bookings.
Think about what you want prospects to know and see. Is it the versatility of your ballroom? Or the technology you use to help make event planners’ lives easier? Make sure you and your sales teams get these unique selling points across.
Here are some industry events to consider:
The Business Travel Show
PCMA Convening Leaders
Track and Analyze Data
Finally, tracking and analyzing data is an essential ongoing task if you want to maximize your corporate and group bookings. Ensure you’re using the right technology and that you’re integrating with your wider technology stack. The data you collect helps you understand what’s going well, and what could be better.
Use analytics tools and reports to monitor booking patterns and trends internally and externally. Companies like STR give you access to market data, while your sales activity, pace, and win/loss reports paint a picture of your business-specific trends.
Once you have your data, it’ll be a lot easier to make data-driven adjustments and improvements.
Increasing your hotel’s corporate and group bookings can have a big impact on your overall revenue. But knowing how to strengthen this side of your business is key.
From understanding your target market to tracking and analyzing your data, there are several ways you can attract more corporate and group business.
Social Media Marketing Strategy For Hotels: 11 Best Practices
Social media is an extension of your physical brand. This means your hotel’s social media marketing strategies should reflect your values, aesthetics and personality. Read this post to learn how to get it right.
12 Hotel Ancillary Revenue Ideas You Can Implement Today
Looking for new and innovative ways to increase revenue at your hotel? With the tools and revenue-generating ideas for hotels in this detailed blog post, you’re ready to get strategic with ancillary revenue management.
SEO for Hotels: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for hotels is a long game, not a quick fix. But don’t get discouraged; just keep following as many of the hotel SEO tips in this guide as possible and your rankings are sure to improve.
Get It Right: Your Guide to Online Review Management for Hotels
Your hotel's digital reputation impacts both your ability to win over guests and how much you can charge. This comprehensive Guide details the smartest strategies and tactics for hotel online review management.
10 Hotel Staff Training Strategies for Success in a Tight Labor Market
Good hotel staff training is essential, especially today. Put these tips into practice and implement easy-to-use technology and you’ll find yourself with a happier, more productive workforce in no time!