Planning a group cruise might start out like choosing just about any other travel plan, just with more people. Find a ship, sailing date and itinerary the group agrees on and off we go: cruise dreams enabled. Still, there are some rather important differences between booking a group cruise and actually sailing that require some rather special skills not everyone might have.
The Pied Piper Role
The travel professional/cruise line take care of the details while the group leader spreads news of the sailing, lending a familiar voice to a process which all group members might not have been through before. If this is a friends & family group, the person who enables family gatherings, dinners or special events is a logical choice for the group leader.
Get The Point?
Seasoned travelers who have not been part of a group cruise often ask “Why should I book with the group?” They believe they can get the same overall value/deal by booking directly with the cruise line. That belief is often incorrect. A substantial benefit of booking as a group as opposed to a bunch of individual reservations: amenity points. Cruise lines commonly add a varying number of points to each sailing to make booking those ships and dates more attractive. Group leaders choose what to ‘spend’ those points on for the group. It might be reducing the fare, a bottle of wine in each stateroom upon embarkation, onboard credit or some other extra thing that everyone in the group gets. Others on the ship do not.
The Group Leader Is Not A Middleman
In a perfect world, the group leader performs their role well as does the travel professional. Everyone gets booked, plans are made, sailing happens and they all make it home to regale others with their stories of adventure for years to come. While the world is not a perfect place, sticking to our roles in the process brings the best results. Questions about pricing, availability and special requests go to the travel professional. Questions and comments about everything else begin with the group leader but probably end up with the travel professional.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Commonly found in group situations when there are 8 or more staterooms involved, what is called a Tour Conductor credit (TC for short). That amount is generally the cruise fare value of the total fare of one person. It’s a credit some group leaders will never hear about. The group leader might have kept that credit in consideration of the considerable amount of time it takes to pull this off. They might have spent it on a group function like a cocktail party or the travel company/cruise line might not offer it.
The best part of being the group leader though comes after the cruise. Once back home and reflecting on the experience, group leaders feel good about what they do. Through their efforts, everyone had a good time, enjoyed the cruise and want to plan another one in the future. That’s always a good end result.
Chris Owen shares frank, inside information about cruise vacations on ChrisCruises.com