Question: Purchasing group airline tickets

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by scotlib, Mar 9, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Hi,
    This isn't regarding miles.
    If you've purchased air fare for a group, how did you do it?
    I've only begun to look. One first airline I tried was the group link at Aer Lingus. I didn't like seeing the air fare per person go Up with an increase in the group size.

    Tips and recommendations most welcome. Thank you.
     
    misman and Exit Row like this.
  2. Mackieman
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    Mackieman Gold Member

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    Welcome. :)

    Most airlines have group sales departments that you can work with depending on the size of the group, but the one time I did it, I didn't see any real savings over having folks on individual PNRs (reservations). Your mileage will most assuredly vary. A good travel agent may be able to help as well.
     
  3. Westsox
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    Westsox Gold Member

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    When traveling with a group, I always use a local travel agent to book the airfare. If there are any problems with the trip, the agent can be invaluable. I was with a group of 30 returning from Nicaragua a few years back. There were significant delays and travel issues due to weather problems. By contacting the travel agent, we were able to have her rebook several passengers to alternate airports and arrange for rental cars to get everyone back home. One phone call to the travel agent and everything was handled.

    Using an agent also helps when several members in the group are not seasoned travelers. You just explain to them that the travel agent is handling everything and will call us as soon as everything is resolved. And you do not have to deal with "20 questions" from each person.
     
    jackal likes this.
  4. Thank you for the replies! I could be nuts for wanting to try, but I am giving it at least an attempt.
     
  5. iamthehpt

    iamthehpt Silver Member

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    I purchase group air once per year for a group that has been as small as 50 attendees and as large as 183 attendees. I have found that working with a travel agent usually costs MORE in terms of airfare but (often but not always) LESS in terms of hotel cost. Using an agent cuts down EXPONENTIALLY on the hassle involved in arranging air, hotel, airport transfers, conference room space and optional tours. However, for our group, our biggest concern is in keeping the overall cost of the trip down, so I have found that I generally do better negotiating directly with the various vendors rather than using an agent. I contact a number of airlines to get a group quote (sometimes online but sometimes by calling the airline's group sales desk). I contact a number of hotels to get room and conference room quotes. A few months before travel, I fly to the location and negotiate directly for airport transfers and optional tours. I have done this for the past 8 years (the first 3 with an agent, the last 8 without one). Our destination has always been Europe.
     
  6. iamthehpt

    iamthehpt Silver Member

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    One other note -- I have found that airfare for groups will generally cost MORE than the cheapest flight you will see online. This is true whether you deal directly with the airline's group sales desk or through an agent. The reason for the increase is fare categories. The cheapest rate you see online will be the cheapest rate for a single person or couple traveling together -- the number of seats available at this rate is limited. When you book a group, your group will book into a fare category that has at least XX number of seats available in it (XX equaling the size of your group. Let's assume an airline has its cheapest category available for 9 seats (we'll call it fare bucket A), the next cheapest category available for 10 seats (we'll call it fare bucket B), the next cheapest category for 10 seats (fare bucket C) and the next cheapest category for 15 seats (fare bucket D). If you are a group of 11 travelers you will book into category D since that is the first fare bucket that will accomodate your entire group. They won't give you 9 of the cheapest seats and 1 of the next category. I have found that group travel is MORE expensive than individual travel I could book for myself -- but with the hotel concessions we arrange, the trip cost is usually less than my non-travel savvy group members could arrange on their own.
     
  7. AmericanGirl
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    AmericanGirl Silver Member

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    Can you tell us the size of your group?

    You can also use a meeting planner to help you organize your trip. If you have a small group, I would be happy to give you some pointers on negotiating a hotel contract and dealing with group air. Feel free to start a conversation.
     
  8. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I've seen cases where the group benefit seems to be FF miles for the organizer in addition to the participants and awfully nice room upgrades for the organizer to keep or dispense to group members. For very large groups, up to 30 % off of a full Y fare or 5% off of the best available discount coach (possibly with nonrefundability restrictions tacked on) and a bunch of free room nights seems typical for an official carrier and headquarters hotel designation,

    When you say "purchasing for a group, " do you need/want to be financially responsible for the travel arrangements? Who pays if someone cancels without notice and how can you enforce their paying in this case. Something to think about....I prefer to have them pay and then be reimbursed upon submission of receipts, possibly up to some maximum amount if I can't pay a set amount and encourage them to optimize.
     
  9. AmericanGirl
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    AmericanGirl Silver Member

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    Personally, as a meeting planner, I have never seen an organizer recieve FF miles other than their own. Nor do we find 30% anymore on flight discounts. Smaller groups get Zone fares, which may not be much of a discount at all. The 5% is typical, and sometimes 10%. One of the last groups I planned with over 800 attendees, we only received 10% from the airline.

    I agree it is always best to have participants pay themselves for both hotel and flight.

    Typically a certain number of room upgrades are offered as one of the concessions from the hotel for a specified number of rooms at the group rate.Sometimes you can negotiate a staff rate and/or complimentary room for the organizer, again depending on the number of rooms booked. When you arrange your room block with the hotel, you will give the name of the Group and then provide said group with the hotel's direct number and advise them to book under the group name, or in the alternative the link to the hotel which takes them to a booking page with the group code.

    It truly depends on the size of the group and the amount of spend (food and beverage) the hotel can expect to negotiate the best room rate.
     
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  10. Hi, many thanks for the additional information. I think it's getting easier to say that I am definitely nuts and out of my league.

    I've made 3 trips to Scotland, traveling independently and alone. Co-workers and friends from church express envy but will not make an attempt to do the same. With a number of contacts in-country now, my thought was to organize a 10-day, 10-15 person trip, with a mix of private mini-bus touring for a couple of days and then finish out in Edinburgh, where we're all at the same guest house but going about independently at that point (Edinburgh has too many options to restrict to one itinerary, IMO).

    I already have the guest house and am working on the mini-bus section. The biggest buggaboo is the airfare. If everyone does that part independently, my headaches are mostly gone, but then not everyone is arriving at the same time.

    Many thanks again for the above replies. Cheers.
     

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