Recently a number of scenarios relating to room blocks have been discussed on social media. They have highlighted the fact that it can be challenging to balance the needs of corporate clients with those of resorts and hotels.
While clients need maximum flexibility and to keep options open for guests, resorts and hotels need to maximize revenue by ensuring full occupancy.
Flexibility to Accommodate Guest Needs
For incentive trips, this can become tricky. Contracts are signed and rooms are blocked long before year end results and companies can determine who has qualified for the trip. By the time the announcement is made, guests who are part of the group need enough time to make choices bringing children, upgrading to higher room categories, reserving connecting rooms, opting for a room with 2 beds, or extending their stay pre- or post the group's peak days. If guests want to bring children, for example, and all suitable room categories are sold out, this will lead to dissatisfaction.
To meet this need, resorts do hold some room categories until a specified date to give guests time to consider their options. If rooms are held for too long and properties turn away business, it may be difficult to sell the space and they could end up with vacancies.
While there are no simple solutions, properties can usually estimate how much time they realistically need to sell space, particularly in premium categories. This usually ends up being anywhere from 45 to 60 days before the group's expected arrival. With open communication, win-win agreements can be reached about a realistic date to release any rooms (or upgraded rooms) that have not been booked.
For hard-to-sell categories like presidential suites, sometimes rooms can be held on a first option or right of first refusal basis. Some agreements stipulate that, if the resort begins to experience pressure and a high demand for premium room categories, the client will be given the option to confirm the booking or release the rooms.
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Another scenario that sometimes arises with room blocks is late arrivals. Some recent discussions on social media groups have discussed the frustration when guests arrive late and they are "walked" to other properties. A flight delay can make a difference between arriving on time and arriving really late.
I recently experienced a 5 hour delay on the way to Las Vegas. Upon landing, head winds were so strong that the pilot aborted the landing and headed to Ontario, California, near the coast. It took over two hours on the tarmac waiting for refueling and the flight finally landed in Vegas at 1:50 am. Communication with the hotel and guaranteeing payment for the room saved the day.
When scenarios like this arise with group bookings, payment in full in advance and open communication can eliminate the need for guests to experience the frustration of being "walked".
OnArrival Mobile Check in App can save the day for guests arriving late.
Photo Credit: Taber Andrew Bain