4 Tips on Handling Large Group Bookings

Activities are a great way for people to bond over a shared experience. Whether it’s kayaking for Mother’s Day, escaping a room for a team building event, or going on a wine tour for a thirtieth birthday, group activities are always a fun reason to get together (and they’re good for business)! However, large group bookings come with complexity— for you and the person making the booking.

That’s because there’s extra work involved for every participant added to the booking. You might have more information to collect, waivers to sign, and gear to get ready. While the group organizer might face the challenge of managing logistics, the more participants there are, the more work is created for yourself, your team, and the guest who probably regrets volunteering to plan the activity.

Large parties can be such a pain that it’s tempting to set the max group size to a comfortable five to avoid the extra workload. But then you’d miss out on the incredible benefits that come with bigger groups — like filling capacity for one tour with just one booking. So it’s better to learn how to manage large groups than abandon them altogether.

But there’s good news! A little organization can make group bookings a whole lot easier. That’s why I’ve outlined the best practices to help your team provide a personalized experience, run a smooth operation and amaze groups of any size.

1. Customize for large group bookings

Before you learn how to tackle large groups, you need to get them to your door. When the organizer goes to research a tour and activity business, they’ll be taking note of whether it suits their group size and dynamic. So you want to make sure you stand out as one that does.

How do you do that?

Large group of skydivers falling in formation

Well, you need to consider what a large group wants and create an experience specifically for that — just like tapping into the solo travel market or creating travel packages for couples. Here are some ideas that cover common things a large group looks for in an activity:

  • They want a great deal: Offer a discount as an incentive and promote the code on various marketing channels. You can even make the code specific for special group events — such as BIGBIRTHDAYBASH.
  • They want to capture the experience: Selfies for big groups are challenging. Post photos on social media of large groups enjoying the activity to show that your guides are happy to take pictures. This will also help them visualize their group having the same fun.
  • They want help with logistics: It can be frustrating for the organizer to plan everything. When you arrange transportation, food, and lodging, the organizer will be grateful for the burden you’ve lifted off their shoulders. Highlight on your website how you go the extra mile to accommodate big groups.
  • They want the sweet extras: It’s likely the group is getting together for a special event and will want the activity to be just as special. Offering a little something extra — like a free picnic lunch —  will help to accomplish that.
  • They want a full day of fun: Getting a group together can be an incredible feat — which means it’s hardly worth doing for only an hour of entertainment. Create a package deal combining a couple of your activities to take up a chunk of their day. That way, they won’t have to find something else to do and face herding the group all over again.

Any of these ideas will help to encourage a group to choose your tour business. But how can you be sure you’re ready for them?

2. Collect guest information in advance

One of the biggest hassles of large group bookings is getting all the information you need as soon as guests arrive. Though filling out a form is a simple task, it takes longer with more participants — which often leads to a chaotic check-in.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

A large group arrives, and they all cram into the lobby excited to start the activity. Clipboards get passed around, pens stop working, and forms are scribbled on — barely legible for your team to read while scrambling to get everything ready. The organizer acts as the liaison thinking they’re helping the situation. They tell members where to go, what to wear, what equipment to grab — which is how someone ends up with a broken paddle and an oversized lifejacket.

This is not an ideal start for your activity. Not only does it overwhelm your team, but the entire group as well. Everyone should enjoy themselves from beginning to end; it’s how you guarantee good reviews and happy employees.

That’s why it’s best to get this task done before the guests arrive. Instead of having everyone fill out their details in-person, send them an online form in advance. Since most members have things to do before the activity — like paying their portion to the group organizer — submitting a form will be just something else to cross off the to-do list.

Large group booking of hikers going up snowy mountain

You can do this by activating the Guest Form feature in our online booking system.

With Guest Form, the person who makes the booking will complete the steps as normal and then after check-out, they’ll be directed to a page where they’ll submit each guest’s email. All participants can then privately fill in the information you need to help your team prepare for the activity.

If you want to see how Checkfront’s Guest Form can help you handle large group bookings, sign up for a free 21 day trial!

3. Prepare ahead of time

It’s best to get to know your guests before they arrive. That way, your team can properly prepare for the activity ahead of time. If they have everything ready beforehand, then your group can jump right into the adventure. Less time at check-in means more time having fun.

Each of your team members will benefit from learning the details of a group before meeting the participants. Your cook can make sure there’s a meal suitable for a vegetarian without throwing something together last minute. And when the gear is already set out, your guide can focus on forming a connection by engaging with the guests.

Checkfront's Daily Agenda for organizing group bookings

As I mentioned, it’s a great idea to collect the details of the group before check-in. If you’re using Checkfront’s Guest Form, you can ask all participants for information that will help your team prepare — like age, height, weight and dietary restrictions. Once collected, this information is organized in a Daily Agenda that you can print off and share with your team.

4. Personalize the experience

Whenever you have a large group, there’s a greater diversity of interests and needs. Each guest might be a different age, personality type, or fitness level — which can make it challenging for your team to create an experience everyone will enjoy.

Being attentive is key to providing a personalized experience. But a single guide can’t give their attention to everyone. To maintain quality customer service, you’re going to need more hands on deck.

For example, let’s say there’s a guest in the group who’s afraid of heights, but their friends are all adrenaline-junkies. While everyone is down to start rock climbing, they’re trying to work up the courage just to put the harness on. With multiple guides available, it’s more likely one will spot the tell-tale signs of nervousness. So as one guide gets the rest of the group going, another can be there to give an encouraging pep talk.

If you schedule more guides for large groups, you’ll provide a better one-on-one experience. No matter what assistance is needed, there’s a team member who can help. For every guest that feels like they were well taken care of, that’s one more person happy to write a positive review.

Final thoughts

Large group bookings are great for your tour business because they help to fill capacity. When you’re prepared to provide an enjoyable experience for any size, you’re more likely to receive a testimonial, referral, and repeat business. In other words, you’ll continue to get more large groups bookings and more revenue!

P.S. Ready to get more large group bookings?

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