From finding out who's keen and finding somewhere they'll love, to how to make the whole process a laugh, here’s your bible to planning a community trip for the ages, courtesy of the crack team of group trip planners at packed.
1. Decide on the type of trip
Sun, sea, sand...or snow? You'll know what will suit your group best but there are some important things to weigh-up:
- time of year
- things to do
Consider all three before making a call. Skiing is obviously best left to the winter, and yet the winter won't appeal if you've all been training hard and just want to relax on a beach.
Certain trips naturally cost more than others, and you should give some thought to how active, or inactive everyone will want to be.
2. Gauge interest
This is key. There's no point putting hours of time into finding a great chalet or villa that everyone will love if you ain't got the gang together in the first place.
Run ideas for dates, destinations and budget by the group to get a feel for everyone's vibe. You'll have much better uptake if you get everyone involved in the planning stage, and it'll be fun too!
If you have a WhatsApp group going, ask in there, but be careful not to annoy people while they're at work and beware attack by irrelevant (but obviously hilarious) memes. WhatsApp groups are often best left for keeping up with everyone in-destination and sharing photos.
A much easier way is to try the packed app. It lets you create a trip and poll everyone for their preferences on availability, destination and how much they'd be willing to spend on the trip (this can be set to private so no one needs to feel embarrassed).
Invite everyone to your trip and get them voting on when, where and for how much. You can name the trip whatever you like and you can add your community logo or an image of your choice too.
To learn more, visit www.packed.co/app or search "packed: group trip planner" in the App or Play Stores.
3. Begin the search
So, you have an idea of roughly how many people are keen and what they'd like to do.
Now comes the most labour intensive part - looking for somewhere great to stay, that will house a group of your size, that's on budget, and that's in a good area where you'll be able to do all the fun stuff you know the group will want.
booking.com is a good place to begin the hunt for a hotel - it covers the majority of hotels across the world with a reliable rating system that's based on guests who have actually stayed at the hotels they're rating (unlike the less stringently managed Tripadvisor, where anyone can rate anything).
For a villa or a cottage, you could look at Airbnb (although the fees tend to be quite high for large villas), or a plethora of other providers.
Going abroad? Skyscanner is the best place to check flight prices, but beware that airlines only have so many tickets available at a given price, so the cost per head actually rises the larger the group.
For groups of over 8, always visit the specific airline site and check the price for your actual group size to avoid misleading your disciples in the early stages. It can erode trust quickly if you suddenly up the price per person when it comes to booking everything.
Ultimately, as the organiser of a large group booking, you're in for plenty of research, form filling and phone calls to get everything organised.
Although, there is another way...
Instead, you could engage your packed partner in crime to find options for you. They're specialists in finding the best accommodation, flights, transfers and in- destination activities for large groups on a given budget.
Let them know what you're looking for and they'll come back with a list of recommendations personalised to your needs. You can easily share the suggestions with the group and the prices will be set up on a per person basis to cover the whole package.
Importantly, packed pricing is always on a price-match guarantee so the service is essentially free.
4. Make payment effortless
Once you've decided on the plan, and you've priced everything up, it's time to collect payment.
This is delicate, because you need deposits in ASAP to lock in your prices and get everything booked, and it's the point you realise how committed everyone actually is.
Ensure you clearly explain what the total price for the trip is and what's included, how much the deposit is due now, and when the balance will be owed.
Drop your bank details into the WhatsApp group or email chain and give everyone a deadline for making payment.
Book with packed and you'll get a dedicated trip page where you can send everyone to make payment individually.
You'll be able to monitor who has paid on your group leader page and it will send automated reminders when final balances are due.
Your packed planner will then do all the heavy lifting, booking flights, transfers and hotels on your behalf. They can even arrange tour stash or add a kitty to balance payments to be returned the week before you depart.
Don't worry, nothing is booked until you give the go-ahead and everyone's deposits have been received, which guards against the risk of any losses if there are last minute dropouts.
5. Gather travel info and dietary requirements
Last call for shitty admin.
You'll need everyone's full names and dates of birth to book flights, and it's also usually worth getting any dietary requirements from the group to ensure there aren't any mishaps that could derail the trip in-destination.
If you're booking with packed, we'll get full names and date of birth automatically when everyone pays up.
If not, you can still avoid the chaos of WhatsApp groups or email chains by using the packed app.
You can request dietary requirements, dates of birth and even passport details at the tap of a button, and then you can email them to yourself for maximum convenience.
We really hope that breaking down these steps has been helpful because big group trips make for the best of times!
Please let us know what you think and if you need any help, your packed partner in crime is just a tap away.