If you’ve been thrown the mammoth task of organising a group holiday for a special occasion, like a milestone birthday, wedding, graduation, or retirement celebration, don’t be daunted! I’m here to help you do it like a pro.
I recently organised a trip to Fiji for 20 members of my extended family to celebrate my mum’s 70th birthday. Years ago, I also organised a destination wedding for 70 people coming from multiple countries, so the Fiji trip was a breeze in comparison. Here are my top tips to help you become a stress-free superstar trip organiser.
1. It should go without saying, but start planning early and keep your whole party well informed.
2. Many airlines offer group discounts if you have more than ten people travelling together on the same day. But if you see a good discount fare, jump on it, as they tend to be the most competitive in price.
3. If you can shift your travel dates slightly to avoid travel on public holidays and school holidays, not only will costs be cheaper, but you may find that hotels are more accommodating of your party. For example, you may be able to get an upgrade and or some freebies.
4. Do some research for your guests. If the hotel you have chosen is not right for everyone, create a list of alternatives close by that includes price and distance guides, and, of course, things to do in the area. But if you can keep everyone in the one hotel, you will have better leverage with the hotel for negotiating some special treatment.
5. Investigate activities that your group might be interested in and get everyone inspired early. Many can be pre-booked and if you have a large group, you can often negotiate group discounts. Depending on the activity, make sure you let the provider know about the celebration, as often they’ll acknowledge the guest of honour and give them special treatment. For my mum’s birthday, we took a few members of our party to a day spa in Nadi. The spa arranged a transfer from our hotel and the treatments were very reasonably priced for the group.
6. If you’re searching on Wotif, “save” the hotels you’re interested in to receive price alerts if the rate goes up or down. Just click through to the hotel’s main information page, then click on the heart underneath the price (in the top right-hand corner of the page). Booking early for a large party is always recommended.
7. Once you have booked your hotel, make sure to get in touch with the concierge or manager to let them know about the special occasion. They can arrange special perks and upgrades for your guest of honour, often free of charge.
8. If you plan to organise a meal at your hotel as part of the celebration, get in touch with the restaurant directly to get their latest menus and find out if any special requests can be accommodated. We had a few kids at my mum’s celebration, so the hotel arranged a birthday cake and Mum blew out the candles before dinner so the kids could the eat their kids’ meals, have their cake, then be whisked off by the amazing resort nannies I had pre-arranged so the adults could sit back and relax for a kid-free night. Definitely a win-win solution!
9. Speaking of nannies and baby sitters, if you think you might like a night or two without kids, you can organise a nanny after you arrive, but my recommendation is to lock it in ahead of time. I made sure we had a couple of nannies lined up ahead of our stay so we had one less thing to worry about.
10. If your party are looking to get hair and make-up done before a big event, I recommend booking ahead of your stay so you can be sure of getting the most convenient time/s.
11. Housekeeping can generally drop off gifts, cards, kids’ amenities, or anything else you need in your party members’ rooms, if you ask. Just be sure to give them plenty of notice
My family organised a printed milestone photobook for Mum, with messages from friends and family. Needless to say, she had an amazing time and has great memories of her milestone birthday. Because I organised and planned ahead, so do I!