Group travel…what is it? Is it when you travel in an assigned group with people you don’t know? Is it when you travel with 5 friends to the Bahamas? Why do travel agencies always say that they can provide group travel reservations and yet they don’t explain what it is? There are few people (and this included myself at one time) that don’t really understand what group travel is. The first thing that pops into their heads, is the fact that group travel is when there’s a group of people that travel together for the same reason and that’s true. Actually, there’s more than just that. In fact, there are two types of group travel and one of them provides a huge benefit for all travelers including organizations when they fly.
The first type of group travel is when an organization has over 500-1,000 of its employees traveling together to all different parts of the world. For example, one of our managers, Chris, told me that she’s going to be making over 1,000 reservations next summer for one of our clients that plans on having their employees traveling from Africa to the United States. Now at first that might sound like group travel and technically it is, but Chris told me that she plans on making the reservations individually. Also, out of the 1,000 of those travelers many of them plan to fly on different flights and land in different U.S airports. And for that reason it’s actually not the group travel that our company refers to. The real group travel is what gives the best deals to people that plan on traveling together.
Group travel is defined as when 10 or more people are all traveling together and are going from Point A-to-Point B. They are also all booked for the same reservation. What makes group traveling really nice is the fact that the airlines will give those 10 or more travelers a discount on their airfare. I’m not joking! In fact according to Southwest Airlines, “If you're traveling with a group of ten or more people, our Group Travel Program is for you! The program provides extra flexibility and discounted air fare to help make your travel experience affordable, easy, and fun.” Take this as an example. Say that you and your 12 friends decide to travel to the Dominican Republic together for a couple of weeks. You all plan on leaving at the same time, from the same airport, on the exact same airplane, and you guys will all arrive at the same airport in the Dominican Republic. That would be consider group travel and you would receive a discount from the airline.
Group travel doesn’t have to just be all about making reservations for vacationing purposes. Organizations can take advantage of this as well. If one of our clients were to plan on sending 20 of their employees to Ethiopia to help build homes in a small village, then our travel agents can go ahead and book them for a group travel reservation. The organization can receive a discount, and Chris told me that in the past when she booked group travel reservations for our clients they’ve received upwards of a $500 discount on their airfares. She even mentioned that it can also depend on the amount of volume that the airplane has. So if the plane was 25% sold the group travel reservation would cost less compared to a capacity of 50%. Our expert travel counselors also use the Sabre reservation system, and they can even find low air fare discounts when they’re booking group travel reservations. It’s one of the many reasons why travel counselors are still being used today. Group travel can be taken advantage by anyone. Receiving airfare discounts is a benefit for all travelers and that is the true meaning of group travel.
Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel
Source: Southwest Airlines, Group Travel (https://www.southwest.com/html/air/business-groups/group-travel.html)