Congratulations, you're planning a group trip! Now what?
Once you narrow down your dates, destination, where you will sleep, and what you will do, your next major decision is the group structure. Groups generally fall into two categories, flexible and contracted.
Flexible groups are quick, easy and require minimal input from the group leader. Your family and friends are provided with the details and they can now join you on your group itinerary.
If your family and friends are anything like mine, they will place their deposits for this trip 18 weeks after you provided the information. In a perfect world, eighteen weeks later the pricing and availability is the exact same as was when you and your travel agent created the package. In the real world, you face a plethora of variables (supply and demand, promotions, a good economy, etc)and the savvy client who contracted her group space.
With flexible groups, nothing is held for your group, everything is booked on a first come first served basis, at whatever price the market deems acceptable on a given day. In this environment every reservation may have a different price, room category, and sometimes the entire property may sell out. I once had a flex group and in a manner of a week all the upgraded rooms were contracted, so many members of my group ended up with a view facing gates and garden shrubs.
With contracted groups, you are in a binding contract with the resort. This means your favorite property is holding a minimum of 10 rooms just for your group. So if cousin Linda books 18 weeks later, the price is the same, and you can ensure she has her favorite swim out suite that her sister booked weeks ago.
Contracted groups do require a bit more effort on the part of the group leader. For starters a larger deposit is required to guarantee the room block- generally its $50-$100 per room. However, this deposit can be applied directly to the group leaders room once the contract is fulfilled. The group leader must also figure out which rooms to hold, which is where your travel agent can assist. Your travel agent (me) also has other tips to making the contract process seamless for your group.
Contracted groups are recommended for weddings, milestone celebrations, and peak travel times (holidays, summer & winter breaks, etc). While the group leader and agent have to sort thru a few details, explaining to a dozen relatives why their price is different, or their room isn’t as nice as someone else’s isn’t one of them. You can discuss the weather, or swimwear, or the diving class you’re taking to prepare for a jump off of Ricks Cafe.
In conclusion, each group structure has its own set of pros and cons. Give us a call so we can discuss your group needs so we which structure is better for your needs.