BY: NICOLE DEFOREST
The term “group travel” refers to an island vacation at a discounted cost because of the volume of people travelling. I book a lot of wedding groups and other groups travelling together and everyone wants to know: What is the advantage of booking as a group? With group travel comes perks. Here are just some of the ways you can benefit.
Most hotels offer incentives for complimentary passengers when travelling with a group. Most of the time, they offer a free traveller for every 15 or 20 guests (they just pay taxes and fees) but I’ve also seen the incentive as great as every 8th or 11th guest travels free. These complimentary guests add up quickly with a large group, allowing the bride and groom to travel for free. Or, some choose to divide the cost amongst the whole group so everyone gets an additional discount.
Another perk when travelling as a group is you get a block of rooms closer together at the hotel, as well as group reservations for dining making it easier at check in. If you book separately, you may be spread out at different corners of the resort and not be treated as a group. The group leader or bride and groom usually gets to take advantage of a room upgrade, as well as a future travel credit to book another trip the following year. Excursions in the destination can be costly, but another advantage when travelling as a group is the discounts don’t just stop at time of booking. You can also take advantage travelling in a small or large group on excursions, spa treatments or a round of golf. Plus, airlines are now offering free or heavily discount rates to pre-book group seats on board the aircraft to ensure everyone sits together. Most groups offer a price guarantee, where if the price drops outside 60 days prior to travel, and the group is able to rebook in at those rates, everyone would get the lower price that’s advertised. This is huge knowing you’ll get the best rate from time of booking.
When’s the best time to travel to get the best price? Late April and May, as well as October and November, is the best time for larger groups to travel. Because this is during the low season, when we already see discounted rates. All of the suppliers switch most of their aircrafts over to European vacations so the larger hotel chains in the Caribbean and Mexico bring their room costs down to be able to fill their inventory. It’s also the start and end of hurricane season – but just because you travel during hurricane season doesn’t mean you will be stuck in one. Hurricanes usually hit in July, August and September, but you may encounter some more rain during this time than in the off months (December – April). Usually, when it rains, it’s early morning or late afternoon and it will downpour up to an hour and then the sun will come out again.
Things to consider: When dealing with larger groups, it’s hard to satisfy everyone’s needs, likes and dislikes. In most cases, I always say you’re better off going to a larger hotel to be able to make everyone happy. The larger hotels offer more daily activities, more a la carte dining with a variety of food for everyone’s taste buds, more pools to choose from for quiet and relaxation or lively activities, a larger beach front, as well as more accommodations to choose from as some guests will want to upgrade to a better room.
Group rates start with as little as eight adults (some can be a combination of eight with adults and kids) travelling together and can go up to 100 + guests. Next time you think about a trip, talk to a few friends and see if anyone else any interested in going so everyone can reap the advantages when booking as a group.