5 Tips to Simplify Group Hotel Bookings
When you’re juggling a million other tasks, hearing “We’ve got a group traveling, so I need you to book nine hotel rooms,” probably makes your heart sink.
Your to-do list isn’t going anywhere, and you have better things to do than spend hours tracking down a hotel with the best group rate.
Booking business travel excursions — especially for multiple people at once — is stressful.
Thankfully, there are ways to eliminate the stress and hassle of booking group trips — so you can get back to focusing on other essential tasks.
Let’s get started.
1. Who’s Going on the Business Trip?
This first step is always to think about who is going, and gather the information you’ll need to book their travel and accommodations.
For booking flights, you’ll need each party’s full name and date of birth. Double-check everything before making the flight reservation — the spelling of their name must match their IDs exactly.
Keep in mind that if a person has recently changed their name (due to marriage or other reasons), the reservation needs to be booked under the name on their ID.
To avoid error, have each individual write the information or provide their ID for you to reference.
You may also want to ask them if they have a known traveler number (for Global Entry or TSA precheck), and their preferences for seats, airlines, airports, etc — if they have any.
Find out if your travelers have any wiggle room on when they depart and return, too. Flights tend to be cheaper on different days and times, and if your coworker is flexible, you can choose the most economical one.
If their schedule is more strict, find out exactly when they’ll need to depart and arrive and write it down.
Be sure to communicate clearly and accurately so that everyone is on the same page.
Related: Everyone benefits from a few business travel hacks under their belt. Check out our recommendations.
Booking Hotel Rooms
Next, you want to know the budget for hotel rooms. Do the funds only allow for a mid-range room or can you book a suite?
How long is your group staying? Will everyone arrive and depart on the same dates? If any members of your party are arriving early or leaving late, or if you’re not sure yet, you’ll need to make sure you have the hotel rooms booked to accommodate them — or flexible rooms if you need to decide later.
Will presentations be involved? If so, will you need to book a hotel with meeting space, or will it take place outside of the hotel? If audio-visual equipment will be involved, your travelers may want to get on-site a day early to allow time for a few trial runs.
Don’t forget to factor in jet lag and other travel-related weariness. For an important meeting or job, you’ll want everyone to be at the top of their game. It’s worth it for the company to shell out for an extra night at the hotel to ensure that the travelers are well-rested and prepared to do their best.
Discuss these things with your travelers and policy makers well in advance of the trip, so you can book early. It’ll empower you to simplify the search and selection process as much as possible, and ensure the trip is a success.
Be proactive and ask all the questions you can think of — don’t just assume that you’ll be told everything you need to know. People are busy and important details may slip their mind until reservations are already booked.
2. Where Is the Group Going?
Where you’ll look for a hotel likely depends on the destination. Your travel budget will stretch a lot further in a small mid-western city, for instance, than a large metropolis like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco.
However, being closer to the center of the action means restaurants, museums and other cultural hotspots and highlights are nearby — which could be important to consider if the trip will involve schmoozing clients.
If not, room rates are usually cheaper on the city’s outskirts, but always keep in mind that transportation costs will likely increase the farther your travelers are working from their hotel.
You might always want to consider any opportunities to kill two birds with one stone. Is there a competitor or place of interest located nearby that travelers might benefit from being close to? Or a vendor where you could knock out some good work?
Asking these questions can help you plan the most productive possible trip and ensure that you’re choosing the best location for the hotel.
First time booking these kinds of corporate travel arrangements? Check out our guide for beginners.
3. Why Are They Taking This Trip?
Before booking, consider what is the best-case scenario resulting from this trip — and what can you do to help make this happen? In what ways can you assist in eliminating any resistance?
The more information you have as group coordinator, the easier it will be to set your team up for success. It’ll save you time, hassle and even potential embarrassment (if something crucial is forgotten or overlooked).
Again: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even if you have a general idea already, it still never hurts to ask.
You may also like: How to Get Corporate Rates and Discounts on Hotels for Your Business
4. What Are Their Travel Needs?
Make sure you know of any perks, requirements or special upgrades your group needs.
You’re aware your group needs to be close to one location, but are there more? Will they be scouting multiple properties, or looking at different sites?
If so, you may need to factor in vehicle rentals. Or consider hiring a ride service, and don’t forget to note a potential lodging location central to these places. It’s best to price shop these options to find the happy medium of convenience and affordability.
If anyone has dietary concerns or specific food allergies, research any restaurants associated with hotels, and local restaurants where they’ll be able to dine. Having appropriate dietary options shows you care and have done everything in your power to set them up with a comfortable trip.
If a business dinner is on the agenda, seek out a few different highly-rated options your team can pull from. Doing so will save them the hassle and wasted time that comes with trying to choose. Be sure to consider whether advance reservations are needed, and let them know if you have (or haven’t) made reservations.
Health & Fitness
Many business travelers really value the opportunity to keep up with fitness regimes while out of town. Finding a hotel with a good on-site gym is a thoughtful way to consider them.
Discover: Should You Book a Hotel or a Motel?
5. How Can I Make Group Hotel Booking Easier?
We’ve covered all the big details you need to consider when it comes to narrowing down your hotel search. But then you’ll still need to get the best rates, ensure that it all fits in your budget and make all the bookings.
It gets even more complicated when you have people coming and going at different times, or if plans are fluid and subject to change at the last minute.
Feeling overwhelmed yet?
Sometimes, being good at your job comes down to knowing where to delegate big tasks.
And finding the right partner can pay off big time when they can help you negotiate rates.
Related: Discover our e-book on how to make group bookings ridiculously simple.
Use Hotel Engine
At Hotel Engine, we’re making group bookings and extended-stay travel effortless.
Our best-in-class platform and our expert Groups team will help find properties that meet your group’s unique needs, with negotiated room rates and 24/7 modification support.
You’ll have access to over 700,000 hotels worldwide — so no matter where your group is going, you’ll be able to find a great property for their needs.
Looking to book more than eight rooms, or a long-term stay for any size group?
Hotel Engine’s expert Groups team will support you every step of the way. Your dedicated Group Sales Manager will provide you with white-glove service at no additional cost, acting as your first line of defense if you need to make modifications to your itineraries or guest list.
Hotel Engine provides other resources, too, such as how to manage a company mileage policy.
How do group trips work with Hotel Engine?
It couldn’t be simpler to get started. Answer a few brief questions about the trip and travelers, and Hotel Engine’s platform and expert Groups team will get to work immediately. They take your information (like the nitty-gritty details of what you need and where you need it) to find you exactly what you’re after — sending you customized property recommendations within hours.
And every hotel recommendation comes with a group rate negotiated by us — so you can get great savings without all the time-consuming negotiating and back-and-forth.
Calling multiple hotels, trying to make a group reservation and securing the best rate is time-consuming and tedious. Hotel Engine takes all that stress off your plate.
Streamline your billing by enrolling in Direct Bill, and all your bookings (group or not) can be paid for with one invoice with flexible payment options. If you add incidentals coverage to your bookings, your travelers won’t need credit cards at check-in for deposits, and you can trust that we’ll verify every charge with the hotel before you pay anything.
No matter how you decide to pay, keep track of your spending with up-to-date reporting and trend analysis, and enjoy easier reconciliations — with access to every Direct Bill and individual hotel folio, on-demand.
How Can I Gain Access to Hotel Engine’s Services?
Benefits of Using Hotel Engine
If you Google “how do I negotiate a hotel room block,” you can find informative articles, but the process they lay out is labor intensive. They have sections like, “Do your homework on rates.” Who has time to educate themselves on pricing in a specific hotel market, and call around to ask hotels for their rates?
With Hotel Engine, you don’t have to put yourself through that.
Discover how to make group hotel booking ridiculously simple.
Hotel Engine Goes Above & Beyond
In addition to finding suitable hotels for you at the best group hotel rates, the Groups team can also help you with coordinating any and all modifications.
What happens if someone misses a flight and gets there a day late? Or someone falls sick and cannot attend?
When you use Hotel Engine, it’s no longer your problem. Your dedicated Project Manager — backed by the Groups experts and our 24/7 Member Support team — will handle any modifications, from removing someone from a reservation to booking extra days if someone needs to stay late.
They also deal with issues at the hotel. Just like you, they care about your group’s satisfaction. From problems with guest rooms, internet, or other interferences, Hotel Engine will advocate for your group with the hotel, and ensure that you’ve got everything you need.
See also: What is an OBT? [+ Why They Matter]
Group hotel bookings can be complicated — even when you break down the steps. If you have one coming up, book it with Hotel Engine. Between our best-in-class platform and our expert Groups team, we can turn any complex booking into a walk in the park.
Now when you hear, “We’ve got eleven people heading off; please find them a place to stay,” you won’t bat an eye. You’ll know right away where to turn.
Embrace effortless group stays. Sign up for your free Hotel Engine account and get started today.
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.