How do you plan your group trip
Professional support for group travel organization
Tourist information is useful when the region or location is certain. National, regional and city tourist offices provide a wealth of information about a destination. It is always worthwhile to inquire by email, fax or phone. Brochures - even small travel guides - are often sent free of charge or with a request for reimbursement of postage costs. The quality of the material varies. What you can expect:
- Arrival information
- Sights of the region (historical buildings, zoos, museums, castles, etc.)
- Event locations (town halls, cultural centers, etc.)
- Leisure activities (amusement parks, swimming pools, company tours, etc.)
- Hotel and restaurant addresses
- Museum tips
- Event dates (city festivals, anniversaries, etc.)
- Event modules (city tours, wine tastings, etc.)
The employees of the respective offices also help with specific tourism questions. They usually fall back on ready-made program packages, but can also create individual trips through their destination if desired. Especially when city marketing companies have taken on the tasks of tourist information, trained event specialists are usually available who provide agency services, so to speak. Advice and program creation are mostly free of charge, specific services with manpower are billed. Often there are special contacts for the organization of group trips.
Hotels are helpful partners when you want to stay overnight. Many hotels that are set up for groups offer them variable program modules so that the organizer of an excursion can lean back and relax.
The offer ranges from gastronomic experiences (medieval meal, Italian evening) to guided hiking and cycling tours as well as creative courses and animation programs.
Above all, active and wellness hotels as well as large hotel chains have specially trained staff, the right equipment and suitable locations for the events on offer. Detailed information folders are often sent to the organizers on request. The activities are usually under insurance cover - at least that should be clarified in advance - and the billing is at a flat rate.
Agencies offer professional support when it should be more complex. Organizing an excursion that goes beyond the conventional takes a lot of time. Organizers in companies who want to offer their employees the ultimate highlights are often overwhelmed when they are asked to design a program for hundreds of colleagues. Employees who do something like this in addition to their actual work usually tend to uncomplicated solutions because they want the topic off the table quickly.
Event, incentive or marketing agencies offer themselves as helpers and can look back on experience and know-how. They create non-off-the-peg events for groups of all sizes. Anyone looking for support from an agency should do some homework beforehand. This includes the definition of
- target group
- Number of guests
Do you need the support of a professional for the entire duration of the excursion or should he only intervene to help at the final event or the daily program? If no location has yet been determined, the agency will help with the search. It can also provide assistance in defining the goals, depending on whether team building or strategic realignment, the involvement of new employees or an improvement in communication are to be achieved.
In view of the large number of agencies that bustle on the market, the choice is not easy. The size alone says nothing about the quality of the services - even small providers organize large events. For example, they then buy the services that they cannot provide themselves.
More important than the size is whether the agency's core competence corresponds to the task at hand. It should also be checked what experience she has. Has the agency already provided services in the desired region, does it work with the local tourist association? This can already be questioned during the first conversation. Even if you as a customer present your concerns in a general way, the experts at an agency listen carefully, ask questions and draw attention to possible problems.
The first conversation with a reputable agency is free of charge. Examples of previous concepts can help to get an idea of the range of services. The written fixing of the agreements made is also free of charge. The agency usually charges a fee for an offer that is then created, which may already contain ideas, implementations, time and budget approaches - depending on the size of the planned event and the research effort.
Once one or more agencies have presented their concept, the client is spoiled for choice between the agencies and their approaches:
- The ideas should fit the company and the group.
- Is there a plan B? Professional agencies usually offer alternative suggestions in addition to their main program.
Above all, however, the following applies: With timely planning, you can save real money. Anyone who negotiates with service providers and suppliers six months before the event can usually agree much more favorable terms than those who are under pressure.
Help with the selection of agencies is offered by the FME Forum Marketing Event Agencies, which lists the profile of its more than 300 members at www.famab.de.
Travel companies are ideal if you want to delegate. Planning a trip is fun. It promotes communication in the club or company, you learn a lot about destinations and locations during preparation, you can finally let your own creativity off the leash. Many organizers - especially if they have not taken on this task voluntarily or are inexperienced - shy away from responsibility.
Therefore, it can sometimes be better to decouple the planning from the organizational area. That means savoring the joys of planning and leaving the execution to an expert, i.e. a professional tour operator. This could be a bus company from the region or a specialist in group travel, for example. You can then confidently leave the "unpleasant" tasks to him:
- Description of services for the individual program modules
- Information sheets for recruiting participants
- Processing of registrations
- Debt collection
- Travel confirmation and sending of the documents
- Negotiation with the service providers and their payment (restaurants, means of transport, artists)
In this way, the travel professional assumes the entire event risk - including a reduction in the travel price if services are not provided, or liability in the event of damage. That doesn't mean that you, as an organizer, aren't in demand as a source of ideas. Your planning for program modules, locations, routes and supporting programs will be the tour operator's obligation and the basis of his work.
Even if you are afraid that you will not reach the minimum number of participants and then have to cancel the trip, working with a tour operator can be useful. He can then either book you on another trip or offer a trip with a hotel in which the planned excursions are "filled up" with other guests.
Tip: Make sure that your partner has experience with group trips, club trips or company outings. Do not be afraid to ask for references and exchange ideas with other customers.
Special case of educational institutions
Travel educates: The offer of the educational institutions extends from day trips, language trips, creative weekends to long-distance trips all over the world. On trips lasting several days, adult education centers, trade unions and churches usually work together with a professional tour operator for groups. Together they develop a program that is tailored to the educational intent of the sponsor and the wishes of the participants. Legal and insurance issues are the responsibility of the travel agency.
The offer and the design of day trips is usually the responsibility of the course leaders themselves, who either know the preferences of their fan base very well or keep finding out what new museums, destinations or guided tours have to offer. You can get help with legal and insurance-related questions from the relevant associations. Otherwise, club liability and statutory accident insurance are also required here.
Image: gbk - Quality Association for Bus Comfort e.V.
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