Columnist Marty Sarbey de Souto, CTC, suggests ways that group planners that can make their tours stand head and shoulders above the rest. It might be T-shirts to give out, a contest to get travelers engaged or the addition of a pre- or post-trip package.

Often we don’t design a custom-made tour just for our own group; instead we join our group onto a cruise or bigger program where we don’t control the trip contents. How, then, do we make our group members feel “special” and not just another individual lost in the multitudes on a ship or at a convention or at a city-wide celebration of some sort? How do you make your group members feel glad they joined the trip with YOU and YOUR GROUP?

There are a number of ways you can do this, pre and post trip or within the basic trip itself. For example, you might decide to do a one-week Caribbean cruise but package it with a three-day, pre-cruise visit to the Florida Keys that you set up. Or, you might do like a company I’ve seen that packages a Caribbean cruise in combination with a rail journey from the group’s West Coast home city, headlining the glories of train travel.

On a cruise, you’ll certainly want to provide wine at dinner the first night out and group seating of your folks so no one ever feels left out or at loose ends on a big ship with no friends. Maybe you’ll even want to order something special from the chef for that first night for your group only – for example, a cake (or several cakes) saying “Welcome Aboard From Your Name.”

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