This is a special time of year for group travel. As we return to work amidst the post-festive season slump we can escape to thoughts of our next big holiday, reconvene with traveling companions, and begin to fantasise about getting away from it all.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Hope Robertson, blogger and content editor at Make it Social.
Whether to take to the January slopes after a mere few weeks back at work, or to luxuriate in sumptuously meandering months of planning towards summer sun. Now is the time that our brains turn to breaks.
At this point in the calendar, groups looking to steal away for some on-piste action broadly fall into two categories. One has been planning and booking for months and will likely be turning their conversation to transfer rendezvous arrangements, aprés venues and hopes for top powder.
The other is the ‘floating booker’. Like floating voters, these groups haven’t yet made up their minds about where to go and will often be swayed by the best prospect of snow, keenly watching the live resort weather cameras and keeping in touch on social media to share updates and insight.
The floating bookers are often led by a busy yet dedicated group leader who has the experience, confidence and contacts to leave decisions until the last minute. Frequently hailing from Generation Y, these ‘last-minute’ group leaders are au fait with late deals on hotels, flights for mini breaks, and late stage ticket releases for gigs - it’s all about opportunity and seizing the moment.
And with an average of seven group members at their beck and call, each ready to spend upwards of £1000 on a snow trip, that’s a powerful moment worth seizing for any business!
‘Floating bookers’ are up for grabs, stealing frequent ‘micro moments’ of ‘travel intent’ in the weeks and days (depending how brave they are) leading up to their trip. Not everything, though, will be left to chance.
Time off work will typically have been agreed as a group and booked off well in advance. They may have a flight already in the bag to somewhere accessible such as Geneva, with the prospect of turning to Switzerland, Italy or France depending on where the best snow falls.
They will have the live weather cams from the major resorts as open tabs on their phones or tablets, and relish keeping in touch with friends in the group to share updates and insights before finally booking and making official arrangements for accommodation, transfer and add-ons.
The floating bookers will often use Whatsapp, Kik, Facebook, or similar to get the chat started and make plans. That’s where the insights are shared, the funny pics from last year are bandied around, and where the group leader informs all parties of the major booking decisions.
It’s also a space where groups can loosely get a sense of who’s in on this year’s escapades based on group info and who’s joining in the chat and gags.
But group chat alone does not result in a holiday being booked. Year after year, familiar conversations go around in circles based on media reports of top snowfall and ‘hidden gem’ resorts...Are conditions best in Colorado, Courchevel or Verbier? Where’s the best snow in Europe? What about the nightlife? Where is this season's new ‘best kept’ secret?
With floating groups seemingly so difficult to pin down - flexible by nature and focussed on shaping their travel plans around factors as unpredictable as the weather - how do you capture this mercurial market?
It’s simple - groups that stay together, pay together. And that’s all down to engagement.
By offering a social group booking platform that empowers group members to actively opt in or out of plans gives every member a clear view of where the group is at. Once groups are clear on who has signed up, they can pay as individuals, resulting in a checkout that is designed both for impulsive moments and to capture and engage groups throughout the booking process with you from planning to completion.
It’s all about simplicity and meeting the needs of the group - delivering wins for them that result in wins for you.
A simple login means group members can access their travel plans securely time and time again for this holiday, and the next. This gives the travel firm data on individual group members and their travel preferences, creating opportunities for e-promotions at key times of the year relative to their planning patterns.
By offering groups a space to come together, invite friends, and actively opt in or out of travel plans and activities the group can self-manage drop-outs and arrangements effectively and transparently. This leads to a reduction in group frustrations and potential for collapsed sales, and saving time and hassle for your sales agents.
Show me the money
An innovative social booking experience like this provides floating groups with the flexibility to work to their own timescale, while ensuring they have access to the necessary secure booking, package options and add-ons they need once ready to make a booking.
Of course this comes with the understanding that last minute planning may mean slim pickings in their resort of choice, but it also means you can optimise your sales across a range of resorts, highlighting opportunities in vacant accommodation and increasing revenue potential by topping up with add-ons such as heli-transfers, kit hire or lessons.
So by plugging in a social group booking platform you give your existing customers a simple and social way to plan their group holidays with you. And by joining a platform that already has groups ready and waiting to make their travel plans, you can open up your promotions and products to fresh, untapped markets.
NB1: This is a viewpoint by Hope Robertson, blogger and content editor at Make it Social. It appears here as part of Tnooz's sponsored content initiative.
NB2:Image by Shutterstock