Perhaps you’re booking your groups into your own built-from-scratch private tour. In this scenario, it’s up to you to locate sleeping accommodations for each night on the itinerary and to deal with the properties you’ve selected in a gracious and professional manner.

These properties could be hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, motels, national park lodges or other types of sleeping accommodations. But all of them will appreciate your working with them in the collaborative manner prevalent in the industry. Here are a few pointers on what’s expected of you.

It’s assumed you’ll book your group space early – often a year in advance. You should call the hotel’s sales department at the outset to discuss your needs. Then you should receive a contract or letter of confirmation from the property that you must sign and return in order to consider the reservation firm. A verbal confirmation is not adequate.

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If you are new to the property, they may require an upfront one night’s deposit along with the returned signed contract – particularly if this is high season or during special festivities. So you’ll want to make sure to have the cash flow available to meet this early good-faith deposit if/when necessary. Note that many properties appreciate your efforts to give them business not only for the group’s sleeping rooms but also for any additional services you may book such as an in-house welcome party or farewell special dinner.

It should be understood that all tour members are to receive comparable rooms – no “better rooms” for specific tour participants, even though sometimes at check-in the clerk thinks they are doing you a favor by asking the leader who the VIPs are in the group and offering to give them an oceanfront room or some such goodie. I always reply “we have no VIPs.”

If your group is a student group, be sure the leader understands they must observe quietly in the halls and may not take “souvenirs” home with them from the room. You want to make sure that your company’s reputation is respected and that your groups will be welcome again. It’s imperative that you maintain a calendar marking the 90, 60, and 30 days prior to the group’s arrival so you can notify the property how the tour is selling and cut back on some of the space you hold if it appears you may not need all of it. It’s most important to your relationship with the property that you keep them apprised as to how the trip is selling. I like to send the hotel’s sales manager samples of my tour brochure or other promotional material being used to sell this tour.

The 30-day deadline is usually the final deadline, although in some cases I’ve been permitted to hold one unsold room until later
for a possible late sale. With most properties, you will be expected to submit the rooming list with full names of each participant and his/her roommate. In many cases on international trips, the hotel may require more specifics such as nationality, passport numbers, birthdate, home address, etc. Final payment in full for the group’s stay at the property is usually expected at the time of the 30-day review, less, of course, earlier deposits.

Also, near departure time you’ll want to be sure to schedule a pre-departure meeting between you and the tour leader reviewing all details and correspondence between you and the hotels you are utilizing on this trip so that you, your tour leader and hotel personnel are all on the same page.