/ 8 May 2024

Six secrets to planning a successful group trip

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Flight Centre will handle the complexities of booking for large groups, advise on the best deals and even make suggestions on destinations

Planning a group trip can be an exciting adventure and a great opportunity to make memories with your nearest and dearest, but coordinating everyone’s needs, preferences and schedules can also be a challenge. Whether it’s a family reunion, a corporate retreat, or a destination wedding with the whole family or a school group, getting the logistics right can be the difference between an amazing trip and a scenario of what you asked for versus reality. 

Here are some top tips from our Flight Centre Specialist Groups team on how to plan a successful group trip.

1. Start planning early

You know what they say — “fail to prepare and prepare to fail.” There’s no situation where this holds true more than when you’re planning a group getaway. Seriously, the sooner you start planning your group trip, the better. You’ll have more choices of accommodation, activities, transport and everything else. And yes, you will have the added advantage for getting better rates from multiple suppliers dependent on destination! Bryce Maartens, Head of Flight Centre Groups Travel, advises: “Ideally, you will want to plan at least six months in advance of a big group trip. If you are also travelling with specialised or sports equipment, the more time you have, the better to plan for excess luggage or shipping of the equipment prior to getting it there on time.” 

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2.  Have some flexibility

When choosing dates for a group trip, flexibility can be key. Be open to shifting your travel dates by a few days to accommodate everyone and to take advantage of lower prices or more suitable accommodation. If there are only specific days you can make the trip work, it’s going to be much harder to find the perfect venue or flights, but it doesn’t mean it cannot be done. 

“When setting dates, consider factors like off-peak seasons and major holidays, which can affect both availability and cost,” Maartens adds.

3. Decide on the type of trip

If you are travelling as a group of friends or family, deciding on the type of trip you’re taking is one of the most important parts of a holiday planning process. Are you looking for a tour, a cruise, a holiday package, a golfing weekend or week? 

Each option offers different benefits:

Tours are great for groups looking for structured activities and in-depth exploration of a destination and who want the convenience of guides, drivers and pre-planned itineraries.

Cruises provide a mix of relaxation and adventure with everything arranged onboard and visits to multiple destinations; you have options for local and international cruises, ocean or river cruising. 

Holiday packages can include accommodation, options for meal plans and transfers. You can add on tours and things to do to your itinerary, which you can discuss with the Flight Centre Groups specialist team. 

4. Set a clear budget

Budget is one of the most crucial aspects of group travel planning. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what each person is willing to spend, and in the case of an organisation planning, it is also important to have a desired per person rate or full amount they are willing to spend. Consider creating a budget that includes all potential expenses such as travel, accommodation, food, activities and a contingency fund for unexpected costs. Communicate openly about budget and any constraints you may have with your Flight Centre Groups Travel Expert. 

5. Explore popular group destinations

So, what’s the most important part of a group trip? Aside from the people it is, of course, the destination! Finding somewhere that everyone wants to go is the trickiest part, and you’ll want to consider factors like interests, activities, accessibility and the ages of your group. Getting a shortlist together and voting is a good option too. 

Here are some local suggestions from Maartens:

  • Cape Town: what’s not to love? There are lots of easily available flights, loads of accommodation choices from luxury hotels to shared rental houses, and, as Maartens says: “Plenty of variety in things to do for every type of traveller.”
  • Sun City: “This is a great option,” he says. “Flights up to Johannesburg are easy if needed and it is easy to get to Sun City from there. Sun City also has lots of options for restaurants and things to do, plus everything is very close to each other, so there’s no need for travel once you’re there. Lastly, they have a full catering and events team, who can assist with group functions.” 
  • MSC Cruise to Mozambique: Technically, this straddles the border of domestic and international because it leaves from South African shores but travels internationally. “This is generally a popular option as you get most of your stuff included like meals, entertainment, and travel between ports. You only need to pay for drinks, and what you want to do in Mozambique itself, making it really cost effective for groups.”
  • If you want a nice bush option for a group, Pilanesberg usually works well, as some of the lodges are very big, with many rooms available, with options for most travellers’ taste and pocket. Sun City is right next door so you have that open to you as well, and the reserve is VERY close to Johannesburg, making it easy to get to. 

If you want to head overseas — thinking Bali, or Turkey? — here are some popular global getaways which Maartens recommends for groups:

  • Mauritius – “Mauritius has been a popular option for years,” Maartens says. “It’s only a four-hour flight, it has a variety of accommodation styles to meet most travellers’ pockets and expectations, there are loads of things to do and the resorts offer so much you don’t need to leave them. Plus, you can customise your package and inclusions to meet your needs.”
  • Zanzibar – This is another favourite only a short flight away. “Zanzibar is more tropical and more rustic than Mauritius, which makes it unique in terms of island holidays.” The activities are different too. “It offers some of the best snorkelling and diving, and also has a handful of culture tours to keep guests entertained, but not so much that you feel obliged to do something every day.” If you want tropical rest and chilling as a group, this could be the perfect choice for you. 
  • Thailand is another group favourite. Who wouldn’t go? Flights are easily available, accommodation is affordable, there’s great food, and you have a huge choice of accommodation, from all-inclusive resorts to laidback hotels where you can sample street foods and local restaurants. 
  • London: Great for business meetups, as well as travel with a group of friends. There’s plenty of iconic sights to see, as well as music and cultural experiences, and a thriving nightlife scene.
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6. Get expert help

We know, everyone loves planning a trip! And you definitely should be involved in the process, but working with a travel agent who specialises in group travel can be beneficial. They can handle the complexities of booking for large groups, advise on the best deals, and even make suggestions on destinations. A good agent can also be helpful in working with the group to balance different interests and preferences. Not to mention, you’ll have someone to turn to if something doesn’t go to plan on your group trip. 

As Maartens says: “We manage the actual booking, the payment schedules, the special requests, the visa requirements and any unexpected bumps throughout the journey as required for each traveller.” Contact Flight Centre’s Group Travel Expert Team for a seamless group travel experience.