Tackling a Group Booking? A Few Tips From an Expert

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The Modern Travel Agency

Fora Travel

    Ready to dive in to your first group booking? We've got you. (If you need a primer on how room blocks work, check out our guide to mastering the art of group bookings.)

    Getting started is the hardest part, but luckily, as a Fora Advisor, you’re part of an experienced and knowledgeable community that can steer you in the right direction.

    We turned to Fora Advisor Jessica Rausch, who made a 90-person group booking for a Virgin Voyages company retreat — a hefty offshore room block — for her wisdom & tips.
    Read on for several effective tactics to help make your group bookings a breeze. (Also check out why we're obsessed with Virgin Voyages.)

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    Advisor - Jessica Rausch
    Jessica Rausch
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    But first: why group bookings are great

    Image courtesy of Hotel de la Ville, one of our favorite hotels in Rome

    “Let me state the obvious, Jessica said. "The bigger the group, the bigger the commission.” Cha-ching.

    Big-ticket commissions are perhaps the largest draw for making these types of bookings. Once you get the hang of things, hotel room blocks (room blocks for weddings, for instance) and other types of group bookings (such as cruises) will begin to resemble standard bookings. Essentially, you’ll do the same amount of work, but reap greater rewards. 

    Read on for Jessica's tips.

    Plan ahead, and mind the details

    Fora Advisor Fallon Alexandria

    Group bookings have a lot of moving pieces.

    “Sometimes it's a bit like herding cats!” Jessica said. “You have to have a high attention to detail to catch mistakes, check and double-check lists, schedules, etc.” 

    Jessica also stressed the importance of early planning.

    "Try to nail down the group's preferred itinerary as soon as humanly possible,” she said.

    “Emphasize that if they request changes, there is no guarantee the supplier will be able to confirm them," Jessica added. "Plan dinners, meetings and entertainment far in advance.”

    This diligence is especially true for cruises.

    Jessica shared that although cruises often pay higher commission, they “usually require a bit more upfront work to make sure everyone is ready to sail.”

    She recommends charging a planning fee, if appropriate.

    “You have to make sure you will get rewarded for all of the hard work you're about to do,” Jessica said.

    “Consider charging a planning fee to cover unexpected admin time — reading contracts, confirming names / passport information, securing group dining space, etc.” Jessica added.

    Ask all the questions

    Image courtesy of Hacienda AltaGracia, one of our favorite Costa Rica hotels

    It never hurts to ask, so we’ve heard. Jessica concurs. This mindset is essential for planning.

    “Don't assume anything," Jessica said. "Ask pointed questions around your group's needs and wants, and do the same for the suppliers.”

    Asking the right questions is also what enables you to take the trip up to a new level for your clients.

    “Always (politely) ask for additional perks — you are providing the supplier with a lot of revenue, and your group should get rewarded for that!” Jessica said. “For my group, I was able to secure a free $300 bar tab per person, just by asking nicely.”

    Lean on suppliers for support

    Another plus of group bookings? You’ll never be working alone.

    “Hotels and cruises have group coordinators to help you along the way,” said Jessica. “Putting together an epic trip or corporate retreat is really rewarding when it goes well!”

    Happy group-booking!

    We at Fora will (of course) be with you every step of the way, too. When you become a Fora Advisor, our industry experts give you all the intel on numerous destinations, cruises, hotels and more. You'll be in good hands as you build your dream career in travel.

    Looking for additional intel? To build a more foundational understanding of room blocks and group bookings, check out our guide to mastering the art of group bookings.

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