You are a Group Leader and we know all too well that it is NOT an easy job. Can I get an AMEN? There are schedules and deadlines and people to manage. There are opinions and participants who change their minds and on and on the list can go. Is it worth it? Is it rewarding? Yes, of course! Given that understanding how much better is it to have a seasoned group travel professional in your corner and on your side rather than relying solely on yourself to make sure all the proverbial bases are covered? It is night and day!
Group Airfare is an amazing product because of the perks that come with the contracts, and those perks are often strengthened by the Agency that you are doing business with. With these contracts, you receive a group fare and amenities for 10 or more people traveling together to a common destination as well as special pricing for leisure, incentive and company meeting travel. This allows your group the opportunity to book, on most carriers, 320 days prior to the last day of travel of your itinerary. It also provides that you can apply a deposit per person to hold the itinerary and the base fare and in most cases gives you the option around 90 days prior to travel to reduce your group to a minimum of 10 without a penalty. Then names and balances are due about 45 days prior to travel depending on the carrier and destination. Most contracts allow names changes, sometimes for a fee, prior to departure as well for those last minute passenger changes that seem to always happen. The Travel Agent that has held, contracted and manages your space is your “bridge” to the carrier and handles all aspects related to your Airfare freeing you up to do what you need to do to make your trip a success. It is a win-win for you and for your group.
A lot of people believe that there is a huge discount with Group Airfare, kind of like a Sam’s or Costco “more is less” version of travel, and while you do get a reduction of sorts, it might not seem like it compared to published prices, but you do. Group rates are based on the number of passengers and are an average of the cost of seats across the classes of tickets. When you buy tickets make sure to check out the to make sure you are getting the best deal on tickets. If you were to purchase these individually at the published fare you would probably only be able to find that rate for 1-4 passengers, so by the time you are done you will pay so much more than planned for and wasted valuable resources in the process.
Case in point, I had a client in the last year who had a group contract with us and then for a companion group that had a different departure city, he found a flight at a price he deemed a better deal than he could get through us. We had quoted him $598.25 per person for an international destination. His first twenty passengers were in fact $20.00 less than the group quote, but the remaining thirty were well over this cost and averaged $75.00 to $100.00 per person more by the time he had finished purchasing. He also learned the hard way that those tickets were non-refundable and non-transferable with no name changes and lost money on tickets not travelled on. In the end, he confessed that he wished we had managed both trips because of the added cost, monies lost and the time involved with the self-managed booking.
The birth of the internet has caused us all to be a little too self-sufficient in some respects and has made us experts it seems at a lot of things including the travel business. Travel is an ever changing dynamic and those waters are best navigated by a seasoned agent. I tell people “being your own travel agent is so yesterday’s internet” meaning call a professional who does this everyday all day for the best results!
In all honesty, I really don’t understand why, on this side of things, Group Leaders, no matter if it is a family group, a sports team, church or business, doesn’t allow an agency to work with and for them. There is an ease and a confidence in it and too, since the agency works with the airlines on a daily basis, there is a relationship that is birthed from continual cooperation on airfare. Here at GroupSource, we have amazing contacts that provide us with the best in wholesale airfare and we are able to negotiate the best rates and terms for the client. Since 1992, we have helped over 300,000 people travel in all forms of purposes, both groups and individuals and are seasoned at what we do.
We would love to help you with your next adventure and now that you know a bit more about Group Travel, what are you waiting on?