The pains of group booking flights are well known to many corporate travel managers. While you may approach the task with a high degree of focus and the best of intentions, all the moving parts ensure it’s not always a smooth path to accomplishing your goal.
Convincing your road warriors to collectively get on the same page at the same time can be akin to herding wild cats in an ice storm. Then there’s the joy of keeping track of everyone’s legal name so they don’t run into trouble at the airport when the name on their ticket doesn’t match the name on their ID, or the always looming question of whether you should go the group or individual reservation route to snag the most cost-effective flights.
Yet when it comes to business travel, there are plenty of times where it’s essential to orchestrate group travel — for important industry conferences, company meetings, and, of course, President’s Club. For those who are tackling all the common challenges that come with group booking flights, here are a few tips to help corporate travel managers navigate the turbulence:
When it comes to booking group flights, it’s important to get a head start on collecting every traveler’s information — name, birthdate, preferred seat and room type, loyalty program information, and the like. Just remember — the later you book, the higher the chance that rates will go up. A travel management solution that stores all necessary booking information for the entire business in one place ensures you don’t need to go on a wild goose chase with every road warrior.
There are several downsides to booking trips for each person individually. For starters, there’s no guarantee that everyone in the group will get a seat on that flight — even if you’ve planned the travel way in advance. And in order to get the lowest fare for that specific day, you’re taking a risk that some travelers will end up on a different carrier.
The other disadvantage is the lack of flexibility. Travelers are locked into those specific dates and times. However, with group booking that has been negotiated, you’ll have the time to make the changes that inevitably need to be made as the date of travel approaches. Typically, airlines will allow you to add or remove ten percent of the passengers in the booking, up to a month beforehand. If you’re able to, your best bet is to book and manage your group travel in one fell swoop.
Depending on which carrier you choose, you’ll have a range of options for booking your group. Some airlines require everyone to check in and fly together, while others are amenable to you booking as a group while splitting up the travelers over multiple flights. And, of course, the prices, discounts, and flight schedules vary as well. The research can be a little time-consuming, but worth the effort. Make sure you check in on all the appropriate details across carriers before you embark on group booking flights. Some corporate travel managers recommend creating a simple tracking spreadsheet as you gather details during your airline research, which help make decisions clear when it comes time to book.
Sometimes it can feel like you’re flying blind when booking group travel. And while these tips can help make the process less of a roller coaster ride, there is a more efficient way to go. A user-friendly travel management solution like TripActions can help you save untold hours on research, planning, and booking, not to mention individual booking costs. Get in touch with one of our corporate travel management experts for more information on how to simplify group travel booking at your organization.