Five Tools to Help Steer Your Travel Group in the Right Direction
Planning a vacation for a group – whether it is friends, family, co-workers, your club or as a vocation can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time. Travel is more enjoyable with a group, as shared experiences, cost savings and lifetime memories await.
But someone has to take charge of the planning and execution. This type of task typically draws a leader – someone who’s not afraid to take control, make hard decisions and speak on behalf of the group. Uber-organization also helps…immensely.
Whether you’re just starting to plan your first group vacation or are a seasoned veteran, here are five resources you shouldn’t do without.
Help with Hotels
Shockingly to many, most hotels don’t have an automated process for booking groups. This has to do with how them manage their yields and large room blocks, since many groups are speculative (you think you’re going to need 24 rooms, but how many you end up with is anyone’s guess) they don’t put “live” group rates on their website. However there is a solution. Services like Groups 360 and Hotel Planner allows you to post your group request on their website and sit back and watch while hotels compete for your group business. While here you can view maps of the hotel, read about its amenities and verify its star rating.
Sure, you could plot out a 3-day weekend in Milwaukee, Mississippi or Miami on your own, but why when you can let destination experts provide templates from you to work from? Convention and Visitor Bureaus often have sample itineraries available for all types of groups, from girlfriends to grandmas. Check the CVB website of the area you’re planning on visiting, or for a selection of hand-picked itineraries, start here. Reminder though, you have to make your own bookings, CVB’s are there to help with inspiration – they’re not travel agents.
There are a number of free websites that help groups get organized. This includes Group Experience, Travelfy.com, TravelStormer.com and any number of other “T” sites. Some even offer the ability to allow individuals to join in the conversation and pay individually, a huge bonus if you don’t want to play banker or shake Uncle Hank down for deposits and final payments.
Learn How to Do It Right
There’s no shortage of clips on the internet on planning group travel. Most of these amount to couple paragraphs or two written by someone who’s a self-described expert. The problem here is that you can’t learn how to effectively plan and manage group travel in 300 words or less. It can get complicated, especially if you’re planning on doing this as a vocation, which is a new trend we see emerging. Fortunately there’s a book on planning group travel, written by Jeff Gayduk that covers the entire gamut of planning, marketing and escorting a group of travelers. Not only has Marty taught this as a college-level class for over a decade, she’s a practicing group travel organizer.
Don’t Forget the Insurance!
Unfortunate accidents, illness, government shutdowns and supplier bankruptcy are a reality of today’s travel world. The last thing you want is for your travelers to be left holding the bag if one of the above happens. Travel insurance protects you and your travelers against the unforeseen, refunding their monies if someone turns ill, has an accident that prevents them from traveling, or the travel supplier you choose doesn’t deliver the trip. There are affordable, age-rated travel insurance policies offered by carriers that protect your investment for a small fee. Just like American Express – don’t leave home without it!
I’ll end with a bonus tip – if you’re looking for destination ideas, check out the Site InSpections and magazine article vault found right here on LeisureGroupTravel.com, brought to you by the leading brands in group vacation planning.