What is group travel?
Anytime you are traveling with a group of ten or more people, you are considered a group by most travel organizations. Hotels will consider you a group if you take up ten or more rooms, cruises will consider you a group if you take up eight staterooms, and airlines require twenty travelers on the same flight to be considered a group.
There are many reasons people travel together
Some share a common interest (conference), whereas others share a common heritage (family reunion). Here is a list of the groups that traditionally travel to a destination together.
- Corporate conferences
- Corporate meetings
- Association meetings
- Church/Religions meetings
- Sports Teams (Hockey, Gymnastics, Regatta, Softball, Baseball, basketball, football etc.)
- Weddings (both at home and destination weddings)
- Family reunions
- Class Reunions
- Military Reunions
- Fraternal (Sorority, Elks lodge etc)
Still others can form groups around companies (meetings), associations, church groups, and sports teams.
Regardless of the reason, groups find that there are many perks to booking travel as a group. And one of the most popular perk of booking as a group is the huge discounts offered to groups.
What kinds of discounts?
Depending on the size of your group, you can get discounts anywhere from 10 to 70% off at hotels, airfare and cruises. In addition to discounted rates, most travel companies offer freebies to group planners.
As an example, most hotels will offer a free room to a group planner provided that a certain number of rooms are booked. How you decide to use that free room is up to you. Many meeting planners will give it to you the speaker, whereas brides booking hotel rooms for out of town guests may use it as a bridal suite.
But isn’t booking as a group such a hassle
Absolutely. Group travel can be a big hassle if you don’t know some of the tips and tricks of making things easier. For example, just a few short years ago, getting group rates for hotels was such a chore. If you needed group rates, you’d have to call a dozen hotels individually and after a few weeks, you would have group rates from half of those hotels.
Between playing phone tag with hotel sales managers and negotiating rates and amenities with several hotels, the whole experience was about as easy as getting your teeth pulled.
Fast forward to today and the tables have been turned.
Now all you have to do is fill out a simple group rates form and hotels in your desired city will email you their rates. What’s even better, the hotels know that they are competing with each other so you get the lowest group hotel rates the very first time. All you have to do is compare offers.
And hotels isn’t the only thing you can compare. You can compare cruises, airfare, and meeting spaces as well. And once you have group travel discounts, you can start looking at activities.
Group Travel Activities
When you are choosing activities to do while you are traveling it is important to look for places that offer discounts to group travelers. You will often find places like movie theatres, live shows, amusement parks and other establishments will have discounts on tickets. You can also speak to the local travel bureau to see what companies offer group discounts in the area.
Often, you can get some significant savings when planning a day cruise, a walking tour or renting bikes for a day of sightseeing. It is important to call ahead of time to find out what deals they offer and how far in advance you have to reserve your seat or tickets.
Are there other perks to traveling as a group?
Of course there are. But the kind of perks you will receive will be very dependent on the kind of group you are.
For example, if you are planning a destination wedding, you may get free shuttle service for your entire group to and from the airport. Other perks that wedding groups get are free bridal suites, express check in, free welcome gifts, and in some cases, a “Congrats on your wedding” sign on the hotel marquee.
If you’re planning a three day meeting at a hotel, you could imagine that the perks you’ll get offered will be more tailored to your group. Most meetings will get discounted meeting room rental rates or food prices. Other perks can be free wifi for their corporate guests, or even free breakfast.
Now that you know that there are some significant savings to be had, let’s go over some the most popular group travel destinations
Popular Group Travel Destinations
You can go with larger vacation destinations like NYC or Chicago, or smaller locations like coastal Maine. It really depends on where the majority of your group is located and how much they can spend.
Consider the following destinations when you are choosing a location for your travel.
- New York City – When you are planning a trip to NYC, instead of staying in the heart of the city, stay across the river in New Jersey. You will save money on the price of your hotel rooms as well as on restaurant choices and tours.
- Washington DC – Another nice, affordable place to consider is Washington DC. This city is brimming with great tourist attractions and monuments that do not cost anything to tour. Get your group together and take a walking tour of the city. To save on hotels, stay in a town that is outside of the city such as Arlington or Alexandria. These options are about 20 to 30 minutes outside of Washington DC and the rates for hotels are much more reasonable.
- Philadelphia – If you are looking for a place with a lot of tourist options, consider Philadelphia, PA. You will find different activities such as tours, amusement parks, museums and zoos to take your group to while you are staying here. A perk to traveling as a group is that you will be eligible for group discounts and many of the tourist locations.
- Baltimore, Maryland is another option. This city is very rich in US history and there is a little bit of everything around the area. If you are looking for something to do with your group consider visiting the World Trade Center Institute or the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. You may find that both of these locations as well as other establishments around the city offer group discounts on tickets and tours.
- Salt Lake City, Utah is a beautiful state to visit. Consider stopping in Salt Lake City for a chance to see breathtaking scenery and other tourist attractions. Whether you are looking to spend a weekend or a couple of weeks, there is plenty to do the keep everyone in your group occupied during the trip.
- Colorado – There are many things to do in Colorado. A handful of these activities are free to the public and will keep you busy for an entire day. Visit Colorado Creek for a day of fishing or take a day trip to Aspen. You will see picturesque views and have interesting things to do for the entire time you are on your trip.
- Florida – Although Florida is known for its larger than life theme parks and resorts there are also plenty of affordable things to do in this beautiful state. There are many different cities that sit right on the ocean and provide hours of fun in the sun at the beach. You can enjoy fishing, swimming, snorkeling and even picnics while spending time in cities like Tampa and Fort Myers, Florida.
- Georgia – Another southern state that offers affordable options is Georgia. You will feel right at home visiting the local tourist attractions in Atlanta or taking a day trip to Stone Mountain. This state offers warm weather, beaches and other attractions that do not cost an arm and a leg.
The destinations above should give you a great head start when planning your event. And speaking of planning, let’s go over the most important tip when planning group travel.
Hotel rooms in particular can be sold well ahead of time. In many cases, groups will book a year to two years out to ensure that they have enough rooms for their event. Moreover, the earlier you book, the better chance you have of getting a good deal. Hotels want to get business booked so they can forecast their business better and will offer you better incentives and perks for booking early.
What should you do next?
Take a look at some tips to make your group travel more affordable.