Planning a group trip can be a bit overwhelming. Every person has their own opinion and expectations, details get confused or even forgotten, and you get stressed. Not fun. Take a breath and keep reading, because it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can plan a fun experience everyone will remember!
Preparation is the first step to group planning success. If you aren’t preparing, you’re already falling behind. It’s hard to hear, but it’s true.
Where should you start?
Set a date and confirm the timeline with your group attendees. They need a chance to organize themselves and to get ready for the outing. Their employers need to be notified of vacation time requests. And activities and obligations need to be moved around to make things work.
Put together a list of attendees. And make sure you don’t forget anyone! No one wants to be left out. Know from the start who needs to be invited. This allows you the time to decide if the outing is an open sign-up or a closed group outing.
The early bird gets the worm. Finalize the plan and submit your reservations. Many venues can accommodate a limited number of reservations. Don’t be forced to change plans because of zero availability. Going back to the drawing board is never fun. Make sure your group outing is everything you want it to be by getting your first choices.
Starting early means getting people to commit. Money is often a major factor in joining a group outing. Give people time to save. If you let the idea of the experience linger too long before making plans, other things will “come up” and people will bail.
Settle on a Budget
Decide on a budget, or at least a budget range. More likely than not, your group is made up of people with different backgrounds and varying incomes. Some may feel comfortable spending a lot of money, others may not. And some people may not have the funds no matter what. Decide on a budget to set an expectation everyone can be comfortable with.
Consider if there are ways to raise funds. Can your group organize a car wash or ask for donations? Is there a sponsorship option available for individuals who don’t have the funds? If your budget needs help, get creative.
Help your budget where you can. There are things to consider if you’re wanting to spend less money. Flights and hotels can be cheaper on certain days than others. Can you arrange for travel on Tuesday through Friday instead of Thursday through Sunday?
And be sure to ask about group rates. Price cuts exist and you can find these discounts with a little effort. Is there an incentive for having 15+ people in your group? Does the rate per person decrease as the number of people in your group increases? What extra activity can you add if you save money in a few places?
Pick a Leader
Who is best to take the lead? Is it you, someone else, or should you let an expert take over? Decide who will be responsible and has the right personality to keep everyone on task, on time, and organized.
Picking a leader doesn’t mean there is only one voice in the group. Continue to make decisions together. Brainstorm ideas and vote on them. The leader will keep everyone and everything moving in the right direction.
Think of the Logistics
Have you thought of everything? What about the venue, food and drink (even short outings need snacks!), and entertainment?
A venue can help set the mood you want for your group, and the mood goes hand in hand with catering and entertainment.
Everyone needs to be fed and kept hydrated. Check to see if food and drink is included in an activity or available at the venue. Will there be a café on-site? When possible, save your group money by bringing your own pre-packaged snacks and water bottles.
A group outing should never lack a little entertainment. This is a major chance to have fun! This could be an organized activity like horseback riding or simply trading stories on the bus.
Will there be enough space for the planned activities? Do you need to consider parking? What about a meeting room?
Use tools at your disposal to make it easy. Group chats or private Facebook groups work great. Keep everyone in the loop with information and updates in one central place. Go a step further with Google Docs. Keep track of who has paid and deadlines for deposits and reservations.
Don’t get so caught up in planning you forget to have fun! The entire reason for a group outing is to invest time and create memories with people important to you.
Maximize the opportunity. Reflect on the experience in the moment. Are you having an amazing time because your leader made sure everything was organized? Tell the leader you appreciate them. Are you always thinking of the moment Uncle Ed’s dentures went flying across the table during dinner? Tell the story again to keep the energy alive. Uncle Ed will appreciate it!
Oh, and take pictures. Lots of pictures. Capture the fun now to take home with you later. There are many faces in a group outing. You’ll want to remember them all. It’s amazing to get home and have something that helps everyone remember the memories because memories are priceless!