When I founded Bon Voyage by Barbour in 2012, my goal was to specialize in cruises. I knew enough people who liked to cruise that I figured I could book one or two, here and there, and make it something fun to do on the side. I also figured I’d dabble in some all-inclusive resorts; my experience at the Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe was so incredible that I wanted others to experience the “AI” life too!
Almost immediately I received a request for a group cruise. Then another. And then yet another. Now, I’m finding myself working on 3 group cruises (so far) for 2014, a group AI getaway and two destination weddings. WOW!
I’m not sharing this information in a boastful way whatsoever. I never intended to work with groups, but I’m finding that they are SO much fun to work with, as everyone is SO excited about their vacation. Furthermore, group trips can often offer additional incentives to make this type of travel even MORE beneficial than they already are.
So here are my reasons why group trips are awesome, in no particular order:
1. You get an opportunity travel with your closest family/friends
Booking a family reunion cruise, or a girlfriends’ getaway to Jamaica, or a group birthday trip gives you the opportunity to spend time in a new place with some of your favorite people. (of course, assuming you LIKE your family and friends, lol). Some of the greatest memories are created on vacation; why not try to make your next family event as memorable as possible?
2. Access to Group Rates
Cruises and Resorts loooooooove groups. Let me be real here: they bring guaranteed business to the company. As a result, they do all sorts of nice things for groups, including the provision of special rates, discounts and promo codes for folks traveling in a group. It’s a great way to save a few dollars on a trip you would’ve been willing to take anyway!
3. Group Amenities
Furthermore, groups are eligible for a variety of incentives at resorts and aboard cruise ships that aren’t available to “regular” passengers. I attended a family group cruise a few years ago and we had a private cocktail party with an open bar, just for us. (Do you know what that would’ve normally cost?). Additional incentives include: onboard credits on cruise ships, free room upgrades, additional discounts, group receptions, and more! The Hard Rock Resort in Punta Cana even has a special lobby dedicated to Groups…and it is impressive.
4. Room/Tour Credits
Depending on the size, you could be eligible for “comps” or “Tour Conductor” credits for your group. These are usually distributed in several ways; either as a refund back to the designated group leader upon completion of travel (i.e. the Bride and Groom in a wedding group), or applied directly to a guest’s room to make it free. Comps are a great incentive to anyone who is brave enough to become the Group Leader and initiate the planning, as well as serve as the main contact between the group and the travel consultant (i.e. me, lol).
5. Dedicated Group Coordinators
Since resorts and cruise lines take such delight in group bookings, oftentimes they will have a designated onsite group leader or liaison on site to assist with any concerns or questions the group may have upon arrival. They can also assist with coordinating group dinners, excursions, etc. Norwegian Cruise Line has this service available, which offers a sense of exclusivity and personal attention to travelers.
6. Flexible Group Sizes
Some may think “group travel” and immediately imagine a 50 person destination wedding, or a 100 member church retreat. As much as I love working with groups of that size, on several cruise lines and at many resorts, a group can be recognized with as little as 5 rooms/cabins booked. That means you’d only have to get 10 friends together (2 per room) to start cashing in on some of these awesome group perks!
Now that you’re armed with this awesome information, get those friends and family together and plan your next getaway!
I’ll be awaiting your call!