One of the biggest trends in traveling right now is something that has always been a favorite of mine: Group Travel. More specifically, Private Groups. Even though this type of travel has been around since forever, it has recently been gaining a lot of attention by travelers looking for unique experiences.
When the great pandemic of 2020 happened, it all but wrecked the travel industry. However, in contrast to commercial travel, private travel gained momentum and really took off. And just as we started to get unbearably restless, and heart-sickened to see our loved ones, the world began opening back up to travel. All these things together created the perfect storm for a surge in group travel. It's just the right balance of being able to see the world with those you want to be around while still not having to interact too closely with those you don't.
Group travel is great for a number of reasons… For one, you get to enjoy an amazing world experience with people you care about or share common interests with. Another reason I love it is because the destination options are endless! You can literally go anywhere in the world- land or sea.
There was a time when it was all up to you and your travel agent to plan the whole trip out from start to finish, but those days are in the past. There are now great touring options out there for just about every country where the itinerary already designed to highlight all of the best locations for you, and most tours are also guided! That's right, included in the price, you get your very own personal, very knowledgeable tour guide to polit your journey!
Group travel is also a smart option for special events, such as birthdays, weddings, reunions, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and anything just about everything else. Imagine celebrating the holidays with your whole family on a sunny island, or meeting up with your old classmates on safari. Wine tour in Italy for your bachelorette party? It's do-able! Group travel allows the entire group to stay together and enjoy the experience, while also celebrating each other.
Designate a group leader to be the main point of contact and handle all of the important things. If you're working with a larger group (more than 20 people), having 2 points of contact can be helpful.
Do NOT try to attempt this alone. Work with a travel agent who specializes in groups and will know how to handle anything that might come your way.
Decide on a destination or excursion everyone will love or that signifies some importance for your group.
Set a reasonable, agreed upon budget and payment plan. It's important to do a little research for on your trip so you know what a normal budget will look like, and be prepared to be a little flexible. Talk to your travel agent to get more details on planning fees, deposits, and payment plans, and how they all need to be paid.
Keep in touch with your travel agent. If you have any questions, just ask! Typically, we only give our contact info out to the group leaders. It just makes things easier for everyone. But, if we need to have a group meeting, we can absolutely set that up to address any concerns.
Ok! Great tips! So, how does this process work? Do I find a group first? Or so I create the itinerary first? The answer is YES!
Honestly, it can work either way. If there is a tour, excursion, event, or activity you are interested in, then start with that and work on bringing people with you. On the flip side, if there is a group of friends, family, club, peers, congregation, etc., you'd like to travel with, start with them and build a tour! There is no wrong way to go about it... but here is a process I like to suggest:
It all starts with a great idea! Whether you've seen or heard about a trip you'd like to propose to a group, or you just like the idea of traveling with your favorite people, it all starts here! If you're looking for some unique experiences, talk to a group travel specialist to explore your options!
Throw the idea out there to your ideal group, be it family, some friends, or a social group you're a part of, to see how many people are interested in your fantastic idea! It's great to bounce ideas off of each other, but it's best to have some basic information such as time of year and destination picked out so that you your group can decide if it this is something that is actually feasible for them. Once you get some positive feedback it's time to make it happen!
Have you decided on a destination yet? Number of people? Budget? If you're looking for some expert advice before making too many big decisions, no worries! That's what we're here for! Your Group Travel Specialist will help you brainstorm ideas to bring back to your group. They'll also let you know what you can expect moving forward.
Get ahold of those who said they were interested and really discuss the specifics. Let them know the destination you picked, expected budget, general travel times, etc. *Keep in mind that if you are looking to do a specific tour or excursion, these elements are likely predetermined, so not too many things can be changed.
Also, understand from the beginning that you'll never be able to accommodate everyone, so don't get discouraged if someone voices that they'd prefer to do something different or can't work with the travel dates. Those who are really interested will be excited that the plans are underway. The real purpose of this step is to share information and see how many people are willing to commit to the trip.
At this point you should have a pretty solid idea of where you're going and who's going with you. Schedule another quick chat with your travel specialist and really nail down the details. Start talking about your itinerary and other travel specifics such as travel requirements, documents, and payments. And then…..
Set up a call with you, your Group Specialist, and the whole group to meet get any questions answered that the group might have. This meet-up can be digital, for example, over Zoom, so anyone can join from anywhere. Or, it may be in person if all circumstances allow.
For those who are ready to commit, it's time to move on to the booking process. Your Travel Specialist will collect the required information from everyone who is going and send out any documents that need to be filled out or signed. Once those are on record and a deposit is ready to be made, the trip will be booked for you! You can start packing now!
Don't get discouraged if you don't get as much interest as you set out for- people have very busy lives and that's normal. For example: If you are part of a yoga group of 60 people and would love to put together a retreat for somewhere like Costa Rica, it would be common for just about everyone to be interested in the initial idea… but as you move along though the process many people will realize that they can't get time off work, or won't have a sitter for the kids, or that their budget just won't allow for a trip this year. By the end of the planning process, it would be normal to have a group of about 15- and that's GREAT!
I hope this has inspired you to start thinking about your future travel plans. There really is no better way to experience the world than with your favorite people at your side. If you don't currently have a reason to create a group and go, then make one up! As far as I'm concerned, any reason to get out there and see more of the world is a good reason! So start putting your ideas together and get ahold of you Group Travel Planner today!
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