Updated September 2023When it comes to celebrating milestone birthdays, family get-togethers, or team-building exercises, large group reservations are a common necessity. These occasions offer a fantastic opportunity for groups to come together and share memorable experiences. However, for operators managing and coordinating these group bookings, the task can be multifaceted and challenging, involving multiple tasks such as handling contact details, managing cancellations, accommodating individual dietary restrictions, juggling varied arrival and departure times, and much more.

To provide an exceptional, personalized experience for each guest within a large group, a strategic approach to handling group reservations is paramount to ensure you know how to handle group reservations. In this article, we’ll explore six indispensable tips that will empower you to optimize your group bookings, ensuring seamless operations and happy guests.

What are group bookings?

A group booking for your tours or activities can encompass a range of participants, starting from four individuals and potentially expanding to 20, 50, or even more. Depending on your operational scale and location, you may encounter multiple coaches filled with eager participants arriving every day.

Why you shouldn’t shy away from group bookings

Don’t underestimate the significance of large group reservations. Beyond the logistical challenges, they can serve as capacity fillers during quieter periods, contributing to a consistent flow of business. By delivering exceptional experiences to larger groups, you create a network of satisfied customers who are likely to spread positive word-of-mouth about your brand. The outcome is clear: you get more bookings and ensure a thriving enterprise.

6 tips to make sure group bookings run smoothly

Mastering the art of large group reservations requires a strategic approach. Here are the six key principles that will ensure not only smooth operations but also steady growth in your group bookings:

1. Be clear about large group bookings

It can be tricky to find tour and activity operators who are set up well for group bookings. If you actively want more large bookings and know how to handle group reservations, you should proactively communicate your capabilities as a group-friendly operator. Consider:

  • Designing and promoting group packages that might be longer in duration or include catering, depending on customer demand.
  • Offering discounts or deals on group bookings over a certain minimum pax.
  • Posting videos or photos of past group experiences on your socials, so others can see how fun those experiences are.
  • Offering commercial rates for team building or corporate getaway options.

As your reputation as a large-group-friendly establishment grows and positive reviews of unforgettable group experiences circulate, your capacity to attract group bookings will naturally expand, while reducing the likelihood of vacant slots on any given day.

2. Centralize your reservations

Centralizing your reservation system can make a world of difference when it comes to handling large group bookings. By implementing integrated tour booking software, you can streamline your operations, improve customer experiences, and avoid unnecessary complications. Here’s how:

  • Efficient Management: Utilize integrated booking software to consolidate reservations from various sources into a single, easy-to-access platform.
  • Real-time Information and Updates: Benefit from up-to-the-minute information on availability, reducing the risk of overbooking or confusion. 
  • Avoid Double-Bookings: A centralized system helps prevent the occurrence of double-bookings, maintaining your reputation for professionalism.
  • Synchronized Communication: Seamlessly communicate updates or changes to group organizers, ensuring everyone is on the same page. Automated emails are one convenient way to improve communications.
  • Time Savings: Eliminate the need to cross-reference multiple systems, allowing you to dedicate more time to enhancing the guest experience.
  • Personalized Service: Access guest information and preferences quickly, enabling tailored service that impresses your clientele. You might also offer an extras package where every participant in the group booking receives photos or video of their experience, via an integration such as PicThrive


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3. Be responsive

Responsive communication is a cornerstone of successful group reservations. Rapidly addressing inquiries, confirmations, and modifications is imperative for a smooth experience. Here’s why being responsive matters and how to achieve it:

  • Swift Inquiries Handling: Promptly respond to initial queries from potential group organizers, showing your commitment to meeting their needs.
  • Timely Confirmations: Confirm reservations quickly to provide peace of mind and allow organizers to proceed with planning.
  • Change Management: Handle any modifications or adjustments promptly, ensuring minimal disruption to group plans.
  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Responding promptly demonstrates your dedication to exceptional customer service, enhancing overall satisfaction.
  • Professionalism: Timely communication reflects positively on your business’s professionalism and reliability.
  • Organizer Reassurance: By promptly addressing concerns, you reassure group organizers that their event is being managed efficiently.

Remember, when it comes to knowing how to handle group reservations, time is of the essence. Prioritize responsive communication to establish a reputation as a dependable and attentive operator.

4. Make communicating easy

Simplicity is the key to effective communication with large groups. Try:

  • Employing user-friendly channels that facilitate quick information dissemination
  • Implement tools such as chatbots or automated messaging systems to promptly provide group members with essential details, itinerary updates, or answers to common questions.

5. Prepare for the unexpected

Large group reservations can take extra time and preparation, but this is much more straightforward with the right booking software. To ensure you know how to handle group reservations before the day, be sure to: 

  • Check your booking dashboard and daily manifest to see if you need to arrange any gluten-free or vegetarian fare.
  • Plan out experiences based on different age groups or fitness levels within the group. 
  • Learn names and preferences to provide personalized service.

An extra tip for group management: If you’re integrating Rezdy for booking and Wherewolf for waivers, you can use their Active Dashboard to manually check guests out as they leave. This makes it much easier to manage your onsite safety and ensure that no one in a large group gets left behind.

6. Leverage automation

If you’re using an online booking system, make sure you’ve automated guest communications including reminders and follow-up review requests. This will ensure every person in the group that you receive contact details for will receive clear and personalized messaging, without you needing to lift a finger. Automated messages can support positive guest experiences, minimize no-shows, and increase your guest reviews and testimonials.

It’s also a great idea to customize your booking form to gather information on any dietary restrictions or allergies for guests in a group. If you require liability waivers for your tours or activities, you can gather these automatically and ahead of time by integrating your Rezdy booking system with Wherewolf’s online waiver solution. As you can imagine, this can save a significant amount of time on the day, without pens or clipboards required!

Start generating more bookings

Once you’re set up to receive and attract groups with the above tips, you’ll be able to welcome each group reservation without the stresses that can otherwise go hand-in-hand with these complex bookings. 

Our free Master Class provides in-depth articles on advertising, analyzing, and reselling your tours or activities through leading travel agents and OTAs. To get started, visit the Master Class page and browse through the different chapters at your own pace. And as always – if you’re looking for powerful online booking software with flexible integrations, we’d love to show you around Rezdy with a free guided tour or you can start a FREE 21-day trial today.

If you enjoyed this article then make sure to follow the Rezdy blog. There are a lot of marketing tools and tour operator tips designed with businesses like yours in mind.

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