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How to Hold Successful Guest Social Hours

Use your guest social hours to connect with and provide added value to your guests.

One way to make your property stand out from others, to offer extra value and to get a chance to connect with guests: hold guest happy hours.

Many hotels offer free drinks to guests at a guest happy hour, daily wine tasting or manager’s reception. Whatever you call the event, there are several key ingredients that will draw guests in, ensure that they have a good time and offer benefits for you and your hotel.

If you’ve decided to host these events at your property, it can take some planning and effort to draw in guests and make attendees happy. Here are 6 ways to make your guest social hours a smashing success:

  1. Get the word out. A successful guest happy hour or manager’s reception starts with marketing. It’s important to let guests know you offer the event and to promote it in a way that makes guests want to attend. Consider letting guests know about the event in multiple ways: when they check in, in person or on the app, and with attractively designed cards or signs in guest rooms.
  2. Provide quality drinks and snacks. Consider your drink and menu offerings carefully. You’ll probably need to offer a limited menu of drinks and snacks, but limited shouldn’t mean lackluster. Ho-hum snacks are actually a common guest complaint about these events. So consider creating a signature snack with local ingredients or adding a gourmet touch to your offerings. For example, if you offer a meat-and-cheese board, include gourmet crackers, pickled items and a fancy local jam or delicious dip to take it up a notch.
  3. Offer non-alcoholic options. Make guests who don’t drink – or are cutting back – feel welcome by offering and highlighting a non-alcoholic drink option or two. Consider non-alcoholic beer, kombucha or a special house mocktail using your own recipe. Also make sure to let guests know there are non-alcoholic beverages available when you issue the invitation.
  4. Make solo travelers feel welcome. These types of events can be especially appealing to those traveling alone. You can make solo travelers feel welcome by having multiple staff members on hand to mingle with guests, offering advice and making small talk. You can also create flexible seating options with lounge furniture to encourage mingling. And offer activities, such as games or a chance to sign up for and win a prize.
  5. Use these events to get guest feedback. Some hotels refer to these events as a manager’s reception and, in fact, the general manager is on hand to talk with guests, hear about their experiences and gather suggestions. This offers a number of benefits, such as allowing you to fix issues, offer outstanding service and head off negative reviews. It may also lead to a guest offering a great idea or way for your property to improve future guest stays. For example, the Doubletree by Hilton San Juan in Puerto Rico added a guest workspace in the lobby as a result of a guest suggestion made at one of these receptions.
  6. Offer travel advice for guests. Manager’s receptions can also be a great way to get guests excited about what your area has to offer, and to give them insider advice and tips they may not otherwise have time to request. Guests who attend these events may be in a relaxed mood, and have time to soak up information and do some trip planning. Create a corner with brochures and local travel tips for guests to peruse when they’ve got a drink in hand, and have staff who can answer travel questions.

If you’re going to host guest receptions, it’s worth taking time to make sure they stand out as a perk with real value for your guests – and that they allow you a chance to make your customer service shine.