Eric is the Director of Group Travel at StudentUniverse. Over the years he has helped thousands of students go abroad. We asked him a few questions.
Q: What are the 3 best tips for group travel planners?
A: 1) Plan ahead, but not too far ahead. You can begin holding space 10-11 months from your departure date, but 7-9 months usually the has best pricing for student groups.
2) Be aware that buying in bulk does not always work in your favor, at least with plane tickets. The airline wants to operate the flight profitably. As such, it is unlikely you will ever get a group confirmed at the lowest individual fare out in the market. The group price is a mix of some cheap seats, with some more expensive seats, and you are getting some flexibility with payments and name submission.
3) Have a contingency plan in your group travel budget. We know what taxes, fuel surcharges, and airline fees look like at the time of holding space. If your group doesn’t leave for 6-10 months, they may change, and you may need to pay these increases.
Q: How is group travel different from individual travel?
A: It can be more stressful for the group leader because they have so many more people and needs to manage. Personal travel planning can be stressful, so amplify that by the number of people you expect to join you! That stress is offset by some major group benefits: Flexibility with payments (pay only a deposit with final names and balance due later), and you guarantee everyone is on the same flight paying the same fare. The fare is usually guaranteed at the time of confirming space.
Q: What kind of customers do you have?
A: College student groups. We help lots of college students for semesters abroad, internships, etc. We help everyone from marching bands to study abroad groups.
Q: What are the most popular destinations for group travel?
A: No big surprises here – A lot of our groups head to Western Europe and Australia. I will say that China and South America have grown significantly over the past five years.
Q: What is the most interesting group you have ever helped?
A: I had a group request an early morning flight from New York to LA, and then a red-eye back that night. When I asked if this was an error, they said they were going to be on “The Price is Right”.
Q: How long have you been doing this for?
A: 10 years! How time flies.
Q: What are your personal favorite travel destinations?
A: This is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. In no particular order: Sydney Australia, Berlin Germany, Svalbard Norway, Dubai UAE, Barcelona Spain, Seattle USA. Nothing beats a New England beach in the summer though.
Contact us for group travel quotes now.