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January 28 2015

Group Travel Strategies for Direct Groups: Part 2 - Planning Your journey Timeline

Now that you have selected the purpose of your group trip, in places you want to travel and just what time of the year, you will now be faced with the task of planning your group tour. You will see many questions to answer, lots of details to complete and numerous deadlines to meet. Being aware what to tackle first, what decisions to create and what support you will require throughout both the planning period and also on the trip may help make the process operate correctly. The key is to plan far in advance.
Black Travel Group

The planning all starts off with a timeline. Following are some general guidelines for mapping the period from when the seed is planted before departure date. Note: This timeline may differ depending upon your kind of group, what destination you have chosen and when you may be traveling.

18 Months Prior to Departure

 Who is going to be invited to participate?
 Determine the approximate length and dates from the trip.
 Begin researching your chosen destination to find out what attractions, museums, theme parks, outdoor adventures, water parks, etc. you desire to attend and the costs associated with each.
 Begin researching transportation, hotels, vacation homes, dining and shopping (if applicable) as well as the costs associated with each.
 If it is a school trip, talk to  the school principal and/or administration to get their approval. Black Travel Group

Ten to twelve Months Prior to Departure

 Set firm dates.
 If flying, final pricing is probably not available until 10 months ahead of departure. Also, arrange transportation back and forth from the airport when you have secured your flights.
 Motorcoach/minibus companies also work 10 months beforehand. If traveling by motorcoach or minibus, you should begin the quoting/booking process now and select a transportation company.
 If you're traveling by van(s) out of your hometown, then begin the quoting/booking process from van rental companies.
 Begin the hotel/vacation home resort quoting/booking process. After finding the quotes, choose a hotel/vacation home resort and book it!
 If you have decided to include meals within the trip, begin the group-friendly restaurant, dinner show quoting/booking process. After finding the quotes, choose which restaurants your group desires and book them!
 If shopping is essential to your group, this will be a good time to request a meet/greet to acquire discounts from the shopping center/retail store.
 If you're youth group, determine who your chaperones will be which may include parents, teachers, sponsors, etc.
 Project the estimated/approximate cost per person.
 Announce the tour including the cost per person and commence promoting it through email, flyers, posters, website, social networking, newsletters, etc.
 Set up a first deposit and payment schedule for each member within your group as they sign up.
 If participating in a music/dance/theatre festival, complete all paperwork and submit.
 If you want travel insurance, now is the time to analyze, fill out paperwork and submit.

6 to 9 Months Just before Departure

 Continue promoting the trip via newsletters, social networking, emails, meetings, etc., keeping interest alive in anyone who has signed up and possibly attracting some more to sign up.
 If you are a school group, scouting troop, youth group etc., begin fundraising activities if needed.
 If your trip is an educational tour, make a list of reading materials or study exercises to prepare students for the trip
 Distribute a replica of the itinerary to all members of your group (meetings, association, youth group, scouting, religious, reunion, etc.)
 Participants needs to be signed up with deposits paid.
 Confirm all reservations including hotel/vacation homes, transportation, attractions, dining, shopping, travel insurance and anything else.

4 Months Prior to Departure

 Continue promoting the trip via newsletters, social media marketing, emails, meetings, etc., keeping interest alive in individuals who have signed up and possibly attracting other to sign up.
 Contact anyone who has shown a pursuit but still has not committed.
 Continue fundraising as needed.
 Collect payments per your payment schedule.

A few months Prior to Departure

 Final payments are due from those who have paid deposits, made payments, etc.
 Finalize lists of all participants and choose roommates for hotels (if applicable), seating arrangements about the motorcoach (if applicable), and/or seating arrangements on your flight if flying
 Purchase all amusement park, attraction, water park and dinner show tickets and begin making final payments for your chosen hotel/vacation homes, restaurants, transportation companies, etc.

Four weeks Prior to Departure

 Schedule a final meeting to confirm the details of your trip including packing lists, travel tips and any last-minute information.
 Make sure you obtain emergency contact, medical and allergy information from each traveler.
 If you're a youth group, make certain parents have your emergency contact info.
 Make sure all permission forms, holiday insurance forms, etc. are completed for each and every traveler.

As previously stated, the above timeline can be a general guide and can differ depending upon your kind of group, what destination you have chosen and when you may be traveling. Use this timeline as a self-help guide to map out your trip from the beginning of planning to the departure date. By employing this step-by-step process, you will be able to successfully plan each stage of one's group trip causing a smooth tour without the surprises.
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