For professors and faculty members bringing a group of students abroad, managing the associated logistics can be a daunting task. From putting together the itinerary to booking air travel and accommodations to finalizing the group size and coordinating payment, the management of all of this can be enough to deter some faculty from signing up to lead the trip. Professors do have resources they can leverage to help manage this; many engage a travel agent to book group travel to help ease the logistics of planning the trip. This article will focus on what group travel is, the benefits of booking group airfare and why airlines give discounts to student and youth travelers.
How Group Travel Works
Group travel is the booking of travel as a group, typically made up of 10+ travelers age 16 or older, on the same itinerary. Other methods of booking travel would be through a faculty member or professor sharing the itinerary with the students and having them book it on their own or the faculty member or professor booking the travel on behalf of the group and being reimbursed (not as common). Neither of these options would involve utilizing a third party to handle the booking.
With group travel, the faculty member works with a travel agency or tour operator who coordinates the booking for the group and negotiates directly with the travel providers (such as the airlines) to provide discounts for the members of the group. Additional discounts are sometimes offered to tour operators (the faculty member or professor) as well. Many airlines are willing to give discounts to student/youth travelers to help fill planes and routes. By providing speciality pricing to a small demographic (that has to prove they are a student/youth traveler) they don’t have to drop their pricing across the board, but can fill the “back of the plane” and start building relationships with the business travelers of tomorrow.
When group travel is booked with airlines, seats can be reserved 11 months in advance and the group leader would have the ability to choose the flight (it could be based on the fastest route, cheapest itinerary or with providers that don’t charge cancellation fees) and whether they want to add travel insurance to bookings.
The Benefits of Group Travel
While one of the biggest benefits to booking group travel through an agency is to save the professor or faculty member the time and hassle of handling the booking on their own, there are several other benefits, including:
- Each airline has different terms and conditions, but typically with group travel bookings:
The seat count can be reduced with no penalty charge (as long as the group remains at 10+ passengers).
The travel is flexible until 90 days in advance.
The deposits paid to the airline providers are refundable.
- Your group will work with a dedicated agent for personalized service. This agent is a direct contact, someone who knows the industry and can work on your reservation should any questions or complications arise.
- Many agents travel on the routes they book and try the tours themselves, so they can speak to suggestions for your booking from experience.
- Some agencies (like StudentUniverse) offer the group leader the ability to have students log into the agency’s portal and make their reservation directly (versus the professor collecting the money and making a lump sum payment to the agency) and can provide a report to the group leader that visibly shows what students have booked at any given time.
If you want to learn more about group travel, visit StudentUniverse’s group travel page: http://www.studentuniverse.com/travel-services or get in touch them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributed by: Evan Becker, Director, Business Development, StudentUniverse
Editor: Andrew Simenson