Planning group trips can be tedious, exhausting and frustrating, to say the very least. Between keeping tracking of the “Yes I’m definitely going”, the “maybes” and the “let me see if I can get time off”, planning a group trip never goes exactly as planned. And being the sole contact or the group leader is an even bigger task, because people come to you for information and concerns, all while you are trying to figure it out yourself. Now don’t get me wrong, once the trip is planned, being with your friends and enjoying the vacation together truly makes up for all the time spent planning. You get to spend time with the people you care about/love and enjoy life to the fullest. However, before we get to that point, you have to go through the planning stage. As someone, whose been in charge of a few group trips, in this piece I am offering 5 Tips on How To Effectively Plan Your Group Trip, with as little obstacles as possible. Let’s dive in.
1.Create A Group chat, Whatsapp Chat, Google Doc or Google Hangout Chat!
The first thing you want to do before planning any trip is create a space for the travelers to communicate with each other, so everyone is on the same page. I usually create my group chat when I’m inquiring about who wants to go, that way I can have all my answers in one place and everyone knows who's going and who isn’t. I, personally, prefer Whatsapp Group Chat, because it’s so easy to use and allows for better communication between Iphone and Android Users. And Whats App is readily accessible via the app store or google play store, at no extra cost. The group chat is also crucial when it comes to making announcements especially those pertaining to due dates and payments. Imagine planning your trip, without a group chat, you’d have to write the same messages to different people multiple times and then make sure they received the message and respond back. The group chat just makes it easier on the group leader and the travelers, in regards to disseminating information, getting feedback or suggestions, deciding vacation activities, etc. It’s important for everyone to be heard, because everyone’s input is necessary. By having all travelers in one chat, we ‘re able to have a discussion about the overall trip. With the group chat, everyone can hear and be heard, or can text and be texted all at once.
2. Look Up Sites/Apps That Help With Group Planning
Find and download an app that helps with your group planning needs. I personally didn’t use a group planning tool, when I planned a few of my trips, but that was because I wasn’t aware there were apps out there for the purpose of helping you plan group travel. But then I accidentally came across Wetravel.com and I’ll never plan a group trip without it. It provides the perfect platform for you to organize group travel. It allows you to create the trip, gives access of the group page to whoever you allow or send the link it, allows up to 25 participants, provides an itinerary for all travelers, and collect payment, all on one platform. With the help of this website, you were able to eliminate multiple tedious task, like creating an itinerary, in exchange for simply inputting information. Payment is made easier, because once you set the price you can choose for the person to pay in full or in payments, while keeping track of all payments made by each travelers. Essentially this site takes some of the hardest elements of planning a trip and condenses it for you, in an effort to make the overall process easier. Before using this website, I’d input all this information in excel sheets, in order to keep it organized. And when I say it was TEDIOUS , I mean every word of it. However, another similar site is travefy.com and gruptrip, which is an app. I haven’t familiarized myself with these sites/apps, but I’d assume they are just like WeTravel.com.
3. Start Planning in Advance
Start planning your group trip months in advance, so you can give yourself and your travelers enough time to get the trip together. In terms of the group leader, the more time you give yourself to prepare, the better you can organize. Planning a group trip is a hassle in itself, and waiting till the last minute only makes it that much harder. You can also get some of the best pricing when planning in advance. So not only do you get time to organize, you also have a chance at getting affordable prices and your pick of hotel rooms, activities etc. Another benefit of planning in advance is having the time to find replacement travelers, if necessary, or adjust prices, as a result of increased or decreased travelers or change in activities. In terms of your travelers, you need to give them time to take off from work or figure out expenses. If financially, they can pay off the trip without it affecting their daily life, travelers would be less likely to cancel last minute. It gives them enough time to deal with obstacles that may arise during the planning process. The main advantage of planning in advance is the extra time you give yourself and your travelers, to ensure everything is handled accordingly.
4. Only Include Those Who Are 100%
When you start your inquiry into who’s going on the trip, be smart and only include those who give you a 100% yes. Don’t include your friend who wants to go, but isn’t sure yet or your maybe friend. By only including people who are 100%, you minimize the chances of people dropping out of the group travel. You certainly don’t eliminate it, because you never know what may happen, but it reduces the chances. Now if your maybe friend decides later on, that they definitely want to take the trip, you can always add them into the group trip. It’s easier to add an additional traveler, than to remove someone or find a replacement. This also goes hand and hand with planning in advance. By planning in advance, you give those maybe friends time to figure out what they want to do, without jeopardizing the overall trip. Another thing that’s tricky, is including people who are waiting for time off from work. Even though, they’d be making payments, their spot is still contingent on getting the time off. Now this is most people’s predicament, these days, so if they want to be included, I say go for it, but I suggest implementing a non-refundable deposit or first payment, so if the time isn’t approved, them dropping out doesn’t affect the price too much. The essence of this tip, is simply that it’s easier to add someone to the trip than to remove someone or find a replacement.
5. Be Strict With Deadlines & Payments
Now this tip may be hard, because the group of travelers are your friends or family, etc, but this is also the reason why a lot of group trips don’t manifest into an actual trip. We are, often, too lenient with our family and friends, allowing people to miss deadlines and payments. This isn’t fair to the other travelers who pay their money to go on the trip. One example I can present to you, is having one of your travelers miss a payment deadline, delaying the overall payment of the group or including someone who wasn’t consistently making payments and then having them drop out at the last minute. It not only affects you, but the overall group, because then payments need to be adjusted based off this, which in turn means an increase in price for all other travelers. Or a delay in payment for activities or hotel, because one person is missing a payment. You must be strict with payments. I find it helpful, to have a non-refundable deposit sometimes, because it offers a way to protect yourself and other travelers if someone drops out. You can either make it automatically non-refundable or non-refundable after a certain date. It may sound harsh, but when it comes to group planning, sometimes you have to be firm. Deadlines are super important, because it affects the overall payment of the group, so if someone isn’t making their deadlines, don’t be afraid to let them know that they may lose their spot if payments can’t be made accordingly. Again this may seem harsh, but it prevents you from some of the obstacles I named above. If someone is sick, or their time wasn’t approved or something comes up, then obviously the traveler can’t control that, but this tip minimizes some of the obstacles that come along with group travel.
Planning for a group trip is at the very least, time consuming and tedious. What people may not realize is that when you opt to take a group trip, you are essentially pooling your money with everyone else’s, so what you do has an affect on the whole group. And if something goes wrong with one person’s payment it affects the overall group’s payment. Or if one person doesn’t like something, it may affect the overall group. So there’s more strain on the planner to ensure that everything is together and organized for the group. And in order to protect the group trip, you have to put some ground rules in place. Whether they may be harsh or not, the end goal is to make the planning process as seamless as possible, so you can get to the best part, which is actually taking and enjoying the trip.