A benefit of serving clients from 16 countries is bringing back best practices from every corner of the globe. Group check-in, standard at many luxury resorts overseas, adds a personal touch to welcoming groups. My company has incorporated group check-in as a standard offering for all of our corporate clients. Here is how it works.
Meet and Greet
When out of town groups arrive, based on what we have seen in the Caribbean, Asia and the Middle East, guests are offered cool water or a welcome drink. We have even set up breakfast bars for guests arriving on early flights with no meal service.
To ensure that no luggage is left behind, it is identified by guests and placed on the bus. Luggage for families is placed in near the front of the baggage compartment before they pre-board.
Group Check-in and Orientation
At the resort or hotel, families are given the opportunity to leave the bus first. Guests again identify their luggage and it is transferred to their rooms.
If the trip from the airport has been long, guests have a chance to freshen up before the welcome lunch and orientation. Check-in takes place just before guests are seated.
Based on a practice we have observed in Asia, guests are again offered hot towel service before lunch. Generally, we start the all-inclusive package with lunch (and the client pays extra for a departure lunch box on the final day before the group heads to the airport). A buffet works best to streamline service and give guests some variety. (We picked up this practice in the Caribbean at Half Moon Resort.) A private dining area next to the restaurant where the regular lunch buffet is served is ideal to eliminate surcharges to the all-inclusive package.
For mid-afternoon arrivals, we generally upgrade the snack to an afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones and assorted pastries.
Once the group is seated, there are short presentations by:
- the DMC to highlight off-site excursions available
- the event planner to provide an overview of the agenda
- the hotel for an orientation to facilities
There is a break when guest are ready for dessert. After the presentations, the nurse is introduced to guests with children. Guests finish lunch at leisure and as they are transferred to their rooms, key areas of the resort are pointed out.
Tailoring Group Check-in for Staggered Arrivals
If arrival is staggered, hot or cold towel service is provided in the car or limousine on the way to the resort. I first observed this practice in Malaysian Borneo (Kuching) and Thailand and it was impressive. If the journey has been lengthy and the hotel is not near the airport, clients can upgrade to hors d'oeuvres or a light boxed lunch if guests will be arriving at the hotel after lunch service is over.
Hot towel service is provided upon arrival, a practice I picked up at Shangri-La's Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi. Check in-in takes place in a lounge or reception area while guests relax and enjoy a welcome drink and hors d'oeuvres as my corporate groups experienced in Dubai at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray and Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa in Oman.
If a hospitality suite has been booked, check-in can take place there. It's a practice inspired by what I experienced in Malaysia at JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur and The Boulevard Hotel. (Executive floor guests are directed to the executive lounge for check-in, welcome drinks and snacks.)
In-room check-in is provided for VIP guests, a practice I experienced at The Regent in Kuala Lumpur on my first trip to Asia. Al Husn at Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah used this approach for the CEO and a Sheikh who were members of the party.
Instead of having guests line up at the front desk, group check-in conveys a heightened sense of professionalism and delivers a more personalized approach.
Photo Credits: Group Incentives, Executive Oasis International