The SMERF (Social, Military, Education, Religious, and Fraternal) category in hospitality is one that is consistently reliable regardless of overall travel trends. Focusing on providing room blocks and packages for groups such as reunions, conferences or weddings can be a very lucrative option for your property.
Groups provide an opportunity to offer great service at scale that is replicable, personalized and relevant. Here are some ways you can improve the overall experience for groups staying at your property:
Custom Messaging on Booking Page
Provide groups with a custom booking page for their events. This not only helps them to feel confident that they are getting the best rate for their group, but also allows you to showcase some of your property's biggest assests. Let guests know about events happening during their stay as well as activities both on- and off-premise which the group can take advantage. Make sure that this page can be further customized with details from the event manager or lead host on group planned activities.
Custom Pre-Arrival and Confirmation Emails with Recommendations
Providing group guests a custom pre-arrival email is a great way to let them know you're excited they are coming to stay with you. You can include information relevant to their event, recommendations of places to eat while they are in town, as well as a link for them to book tours and activities in your location. In many cases, not everyone staying in the room block, such as a spouse or family member, is participating in the associated event. These non-participants may have extra time to explore the city and book tours. This also could be a way for the event host to share updates and get the group prepared for the trip.
Welcome Bags or Letters
When guests arrive they may already have a welcome bag already associated with their event. Either way, it is great to provide them a welcome letter or some other gift or token of appreciation to thank them for choosing to stay with you. Similar to the pre-arrival email you sent them, consider providing staff recommendations on places to eat and things to do in your location. This will make the arrival process feel more personalized and relevant to their stay.
Showcasing and welcoming the group to your hotel is another way to provide a personal touch. Groups that are welcomed to your property with signage that tells them exactly where to go and win will feel especially well taken care of while they're there.
The SMERF market is dependable, but should not be taken for granted. By improving the overall travel experience for all groups that stay at your property, you ensure that they continue to come stay at your property in the future. Following the aforementioned tips will allow you to do just that.