When asked what advice he would give travelers considering big and or small group travel, Doncsecz said:
“For bigger groups, I completely recommend finalizing group contracts with the resort you have in mind. Some resort brands like Karisma or even Sandals can lock in a contract for as little as 5 rooms (other international destinations ask for 10 room minimum). By setting up a contract you lock in and guarantee rates for guests, as well as secure space giving your guests a set amount of time to “book into the group.” You won’t have to worry about these rooms selling out, and you’ll never have a friend or family member talking about “how much less money Aunt Eleanor is paying;” the rates are fixed and confirmed ahead of time.
“Next, when booking these contracts, the group leaders often earn perks from free nights to upgrades. If you are planning on traveling with 5 or more rooms, I highly recommend going the group route to get the most amenities for your special trip.
“Finally, trust a group travel specialist. Agents have different specialties from destinations to the type of traveler. Groups can be a tough task for a singular agent to work sometimes. Do your research and check reviews for a recommended agency or agent.”
When asked what advice he would give travel agents and advisors who sell group travel and those who are looking to sell more group travel, Doncsecz said:
“You must be available for the group leaders. In this day in age, people want instant satisfaction and gratification. If you aren’t willing to give a timely response to a potential group leader (wedding couple perhaps?), these group leaders will look elsewhere. I don’t love giving out my cell phone number to clients, but group leaders are very important people to please. I’ve noticed there is no quicker way to grow business than by doing a good job and getting referrals. Group travel is a unique niche where clients want that guidance and ask others for recommended agents.
“Once groups are booked, make sure to have some sort of checklist system for important dates (releasing rooms, paying balances, sending air info, passing out docs, etc.). These timelines are very important! I also recommend taking the “due dates” that resorts and tour operators may give you and padding them a bit with some extra time to give yourself a safe buffer. If a hotel is asking for all rooms released on June 20, 2019, I recommend having multiple reminders not only for June 20 but also that you tell clients June 10 to help give you time to finalize.
“Lastly, work ahead as much as possible. The hotel is requesting a room release in three weeks? Contact your wedding couple and see who is still pending to get into the group, and how we can urge them along a bit to commit! Another example can be shown when sending out client documents. Sending out travel confirmations to a big group can be very time-consuming. If you have all of your ducks in a row, get those confirmations out so the guests can start thinking of their pre-travel questions.”