Group bookings drive large, predictable increments of revenue for hotels, but not all hotel websites successfully target this lucrative business. Just because your hotel website does a stellar job driving transient bookings does not necessarily mean it is optimized for room block conversions. If you are looking to increase group booking revenue for your hotel, take advantage of Blue Magnet’s actionable guide for optimizing your room blocks funnel!
The Building Blocks of a Good Groups Page
Whether you are targeting corporate groups, wedding blocks, or youth sports teams, your strategy should employ the same basic tenets. By adhering to these tactics and best practices, your website will drive more group booking inquiries from qualified planners.
The hallmarks of a successful group accommodations campaign are:
- A Defined Funnel
- Seamless UX
- Strategic Targeting
Build a Clearly-Defined Conversion Funnel
A clearly defined conversion funnel is essential for a frictionless, intuitive path to (and through) your RFP page. A sculpted funnel will allow you to guide user behavior, increase group inquiries, and track the effectiveness of your campaign. When developing an optimized room block conversion funnel for your hotel website, you will need to:
- Build a room blocks landing page
- Develop a dedicated room block RFP page
- Create a simple, straightforward RFP form for group inquiries
- Minimize obstacles en route to the RFP form
- Respond to group inquiries in a timely fashion
Build a Room Block Page
To effectively drive group bookings at your hotel, build a dedicated room blocks page. While meetings, events, and weddings pages typically promote group accommodations, a strategic room blocks page will allow you to curate your story, target your hotel’s ideal groups, control the path to conversion, and generate room block inquiries.
Your room blocks page will be the top of your groups funnel. It will act as a highly-targeted consideration page and provide a great touch-point for paid and organic traffic. If you mention groups on your weddings, meetings, and events pages, use those sections to link to your dedicated room blocks page. This niche, conversion-optimized page will do a much better job of telling your story, building trust, and generating group revenue.
Remember, with this page, you are not targeting transient guests. You should tailor your content, calls to action, and language to build trust and drive RFPs. Add strong CTAs, speak directly to your audience, and strategically link to your RFP page to pave a frictionless road to the bottom of the funnel.
Add Strong Calls to Action
The calls to action on your room blocks page should be targeted, descriptive, and clear. Verbiage like “Reserve Your Wedding Block” and “Contact Us for Pricing and Availability” tell planners exactly what to expect.
A clear call to action at the end of your introduction provides return visitors a quick, easy path to your RFP page.
Also add a call to action after you outline your accommodations and group amenities. These are the fun, unique features that get wedding planners, family reunion coordinators, and office administrators excited about your hotel. Capitalize on that momentum with a CTA. Make it clear a simple form submission is the best way to get pricing, availability, and an exclusive group rate.
Conclude your room block page with a final call to action. Make one final pitch to your website visitor, reiterate the ease of submitting an RFP, spotlight the quality of your service, and include links to your RFP page. To create a visual emphasis on the call to action, consider incorporating gripping design elements, like the card in the example below.
Tailor Your Hotel Content for Group Travel
Remember to highlight amenities important to group travelers. Nonessential hotel features for a romantic getaway or an overnight layover may be must-haves for groups traveling for weddings or athletic tournaments. In your content, highlight important group amenities like connecting rooms, spaces for congregating, bus parking, meeting rooms, group dining options, and rollaway bed and crib availability.
And do not forget to speak directly to group travel planners!
Unlike booking transient travel, reserving a group block is not as simple as clicking into a booking engine and saying “twenty three rooms please!” Your hotel needs to put forth extra effort to build trust, convince your visitors that your hotel is worth the effort, and guide them through your group bookings funnel. In fact, trustworthiness is one off the hallmarks of a successful room block funnel, and you can learn more about trust-building tactics later in this post.
Get Granular in Your Targeting
Speak directly to the groups most important to your business. If your hotel is located near a major regional sports complex and relies upon team bookings, explicitly write for coaches and athletic program directors.
Like trust building, strategic targeting is essential to an optimized groups funnel and is discussed in further detail in the targeting section of this blog post.
Optimize your conversion funnel by removing anything distracting the visitor from the goal. Remove any internal links or sidebars that detract from your goal: guiding people to your RFP page. By removing unnecessary exit routes from your conversion funnel, you will more effectively drive travel planners to your desired action.
Develop an RFP Page
While a room blocks page is essential to convey crucial information, tell your story, and build trust, you need a dedicated action page to generate and collect leads. For a group bookings funnel, you will need to develop a groups RFP page. This should be completely separate from your meetings, weddings, and events RFP pages. The copy, calls to action, and image strategy should be tailored for group travel; combining your groups RFP page with your other RFP pages could compromise the strategic, composed experience you are trying to craft.
Be Brief and Direct
Your groups RFP page should be concise and direct. Use strong, clear calls to action, reiterate the ease of the room block process, and outline the next steps. Including your CTAs in headers can help dictate user behavior, and noting the response time will set expectations for travel planners.
In addition to a form, make sure your RFP page also includes a direct phone number for the person who handles your hotel’s group accommodations. Some travel planners prefer to inquire verbally, and a click-to-call phone number provides an easy, effective way to capture more room block requests.
Optimize Your RFP Form
Make your form as simple and intuitive as possible. Intricate fields and too many questions add additional layers of thought, stress, and action in the final stage of the lead generation process. As long as you have the person’s name, email address, and phone number, your talented sales team can take care of the rest. Optional fields like dates of stay, number of rooms, and additional comments can help you collect more information up front without adding too much friction in the conversion process. Making these fields optional makes it easier to collect leads from non-professional planners and people who are still finalizing the details of their stay.
While you may be tempted to forego the RFP form in favor of direct email outreach, we advise against it. Structured RFP submissions will be easier for your team to parse and organize. Additionally, direct emails from unknown addresses are more likely to end up in your spam folder or be blocked by your IT team’s internal email filters.
Create a Thank You Page
Once a person submits an RFP, send them to a unique, groups-specific thank you page. This page should make it clear the form was successfully submitted and will reiterate the trust you built by providing an estimated response time.
Your groups thank you page can be simple, but adding captivating imagery, enthusiastic language, and links to your website’s best content can create excitement for the planner’s upcoming visit.
Track Your Thank You Page Visits
Not only will a dedicated room block thank you page round out a consistent, cohesive user experience, it will also help you track RFP submissions in Google Analytics. Since this page will only be accessible upon the submission of your dedicated groups RFP form, the number of thank you page views will mirror the number of room block inquiries you receive.
To make this data easily visible in you Google Analytics (GA) reporting, create a GA goal for room block RFP submissions. A simple, destination-based, custom goal should do the trick.
Additionally, track the clicks to call on your room blocks and groups RFP pages for further insights regarding inquiries.
Make Navigation Intuitive
After you build the components of your room blocks funnel, you need to create a seamless, user-friendly path through its stages. Your navigation verbiage, internal linking, copy, design, and calls to action should work in harmony to create an intuitive, frictionless funnel.
Use Clear, Concise Navigation Verbiage
If driving room block revenue is a primary goal for your hotel, add your groups page to your website’s main navigation. A child item in your events dropdown works best, but you can nestle it below your rooms page if your website does not have a meetings, weddings, or events page.
When you add the page to your navigation, use natural, concise language. While hoteliers often use the word “groups”, non-industry folks tend to say “room blocks”. Labeling the page “Room Blocks” in the navigation will help planners find your page and increase your lead generation potential.
Strategically Add Internal Links
To guide travel planners into your groups funnel, add internal links to your room blocks page from your meetings, weddings, conferences, and social events pages. Provide a brief overview of what your hotel offers for groups and send users to your strategic, optimized room blocks page to increase the likelihood of lead generation.
On your room blocks page, strategically add links to your RFP page throughout your content. Use strong, descriptive calls to action as your anchor text to set clear user expectations and to facilitate a seamless user experience (UX).
Your groups RFP page should have no internal links at all. In the page content, a user should only be able to submit the form or click to call your sales team.
Avoid Links to Non-Funnel Pages
Refrain from linking to pages other than the RFP page on your room blocks page. Providing an easy exit from the page creates a hole in the funnel, reducing the campaign’s conversion potential.
The hotel in the example below positions its central location as its primary selling point. Instead of linking to the directions page or a destination guide, the hotel showcases this information on the room blocks page itself. This section appears near the bottom of the page, following essential information like amenities and policies and just before the final call to action.
Reserving a room block can be a significant commitment – and building trust with travel planners is paramount to guide them to your RFP page. Not only is the planner beholden to his or her group lodging decision, booking a block requires discussion and negotiation with the hotel’s sales team.
To establish trust with your audience, employ the following content tactics. They are easy to implement, will provide useful information, and, most importantly, drive clicks to your RFP form.
Transparency throughout your room block funnel is imperative for building trust. Since we recommend using an RFP form to initiate the process, and since group rates and availability are seldom posted, a perceived cloud of mystery can develop around group bookings. Transparency, however, minimizes friction and uncertainty in the planning process, leading to more room block inquiries.
Establishing transparency will also humanize your hotel and its sales team. This human element will increase confidence the RFP submission will be received by a real life person and ultimately increase the number of inquiries you receive.
Add Starting Rates
Room block rates can vary based on seasonality, availability, the size of the group, and special requests. This poses a challenge in posting rates. However, opening your page with a lead rate will help set expectations for group travel planners. This transparency will also improve the quality of your leads; if your hotel is above a group’s price range, the starting rates can minimize the time your sales team devotes to unqualified leads.
You can accomplish this through any number of design choices, but a simple subheader will effectively convey your message.
Make Your Policies Clear
A room block can be a significant commitment for many people. To ease uncertainty, clearly outline your group accommodations process, minimum room requirement, cancellation policy, and recommended lead time. Not all visitors to this page will be seasoned event planners, and this transparency will minimize anxiety and confusion as users approach the bottom of the conversion funnel.
Your room block policy section can be brief. While an overly detailed list of terms and conditions might deter qualified leads, a high-level policy overview can mitigate worries and foster transparency.
Showcase Your Team
Without context, RFP forms can be intimidating. Most people have submitted forms in to the void, never receiving responses to important inquiries. Adding the name of the form recipient and his or her direct phone number will add a human element to your room blocks RFP page. This transparency will establish trust that planners’ requests will be received and responded to.
Additionally, providing a direct phone number opens a new avenue for room block requests. Not all planners want to conduct this process online, and a direct phone streamlines the process for that audience.
Many website visitors understandably develop form-based anxiety. Where is this form going? Will it ever be received? How long until I can expect a response?
To combat these fears, provide clear, detailed confirmations throughout the process. After website visitors complete your RFP form, direct them to a thank you page with a clear message that the form has been received. Also include the expected turnaround time for a response.
In addition to clear, concise thank you page content, a confirmation email will help build trust that a user’s RFP has been received and that a response is in the works.
Create Highly Targeted Content
Highly targeted content will increase the quality of your inquiries, improve the chances of actualized business, and help you sell room blocks to your ideal guests. On your room blocks page, make sure to speak directly to your target audiences, curate your story, and let event planners know why your hotel is the perfect place for their groups’ accommodations.
Curate Your Hotel Content
Do not treat your groups page like a standard rooms page. Instead, curate your accommodations content for event planners. Provide a comprehensive overview of your hotel’s features that are pertinent for your target audience.
For example, if your hotel is located near an amusement park and frequently books blocks for family reunions and school trips, highlight kid-friendly features like adjoining rooms, cribs, your on-site arcade, your on-site pizza parlor, and your free shuttle to the park.
Speak to Your Ideal Groups
You understand your market better than anyone and know which groups have the highest potential to drive revenue for your hotel. To best pitch your hotel to your ideal group, deliver custom-tailored content to that audience. By speaking directly to your most valuable niche audiences, you can better establish your property as the perfect hotel for very specific sets of needs.
The example below speaks to the hotel’s three most valuable groups: youth sports teams, school and band trips, and amusement park tour groups. If a certain section is not fully relevant to a planner, he or she can skip past it. However, calling out youth sports travel to coaches and athletic directors will demonstrate your hotel’s expertise and help you guide them to the bottom of your conversion funnel.
Sections targeting specific groups can be brief but should highlight the hotel’s key amenities for specific types of groups.
Include Upsell Opportunities
Your room blocks page provides a great opportunity to promote your property’s other services to a qualified audience. If you manage a hotel near your city’s convention center and have a page dedicated to corporate group travel, highlight your meeting space for breakaway meetings. Maybe your hotel has a Michelin-rated restaurant that offers private dining. Promote corporate lunches, rehearsal dinners, and cocktail hours.
The hotel in the example below does not have a wedding reception venue but does have a page dedicated to promoting wedding blocks. To increase the value of the page and drive additional revenue from group bookings, they market farewell brunches at the hotel. Additionally, there is a bachelorette party callout to also establish the hotel as a great group option for that essential component of the wedding process.
Take Your Room Blocks Campaign to the Next Level
Your website is an excellent tool for driving group revenue. When you take the time optimize your room blocks campaign, you will experience a flood of qualified group inquiries from your ideal guests. Your occupancy will be up, your revenue will be predictable, and your sales team will love the steady stream of high-quality RFPs.
As you build out your room block funnel, remember to:
- Curate your content for groups
- Build trust
- Target your ideal groups
- Deliver a seamless UX
Need help honing your room blocks conversion funnel? Get in touch with the experts at Blue Magnet to generate qualified group leads for your hotel!