HSMAI Insight: The Current Group Business Landscape: 12 Trends on the Relationship Between Group Travel and Hotel Sales

Maxwell Smith, Worldwide Sales Manager, Sports, BWH Hotels, HSMAI Rising Sales Leader Council 

Group business comes in many forms – corporate, sports, entertainment, government, religious, etc. – and it is an essential piece of hotel sales. With the dreaded pandemic in the rearview mirror, the Rising Sales Leader Council discussed group travel’s current state, how it has shifted, and where it is headed. 

Three Notable Shifts in Group Travel: 

  1. Business trips have transformed and continue to trend in the direction of incorporating personal or family vacations, mixing work and leisure more so than ever. 
  2. Tradeshows, company retreats, and corporate networking events are finding more creative opportunities for connection and are utilizing their community partners to create memorable moments for attendees, rather than purely focusing on just the event’s educational content. 
  3. There is increased flexibility in cutoff dates and greater potential for earlier room block reviews. These should be used to protect the hotel’s inventory by allowing them to closely monitor pickup and make strategic business decisions accordingly. 

Four Strategies Hotels Can Use for Attracting New Business: 

  1. When submitting a room block proposal, it is vital to showcase the uniqueness of the property and its amenities that differentiate it from competitors. 
  2. Adjust how concessions such as commission and rebates are structured by negotiating terms that make financial sense for the hotel, while still providing attractive rates for the group. 
  3. Utilize specific programs offered by Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) to attract group business, particularly when competing outside of the local market. In general, having a beneficial relationship with the local CVB will keep you in tune with events and opportunities in the area. 
  4. Offer unique amenities that set the hotel apart or tweak common concessions to make them more appealing for the group. 

Two Ways New Hotels Are Being Developed: 

  1. Dynamic, multi-purpose, and unique workspaces, gathering areas, and meeting spaces are being built. Hotel development seems to be focusing more on creating different immersive and sharable experiences for guests. 
  2. The surging demand for apartment hotels and vacation rental properties in the market is leading to new, creative approaches to short-term lodging. 

Three Growing Concerns of Group Business: 

  1. Slow response times with Request for Proposal (RFP) submissions are a major issue. Sitting on an RFP and waiting to submit a proposal could mean missing out on the opportunity entirely. 
  2. Increasing group concessions means longer negotiations. 
  3. Event planners have concerns with navigating complex and strict hotel contracts, as they’re typically averse to any potential legal or financial risks. 

The ever-evolving landscape of group business reflects a nuanced response to post-pandemic societal shifts. As hotels strategically adapt to the fusion of business and leisure, the emphasis on unique experiences and collaboration underscores a commitment to meeting evolving traveler preferences. Navigating newfound roadblocks will be pivotal in shaping a future where innovation and customer-centric approaches drive the narrative of memorable group travel experiences. 

Categories: Sales
Insight Type: Articles