Advice for first time organisers of a group holiday
I have not only had years of experience in supporting people who book to stay at Gilfach Wen Barn but also years of experience in being the one doing the organising of a group trip.
1. Getting agreement on date and property.
It can be time consuming getting agreement between friends on the date and place to stay. It is frustrating when you finally get the deposit money together to find that the property is now booked for the weekend you wanted, so you have to start all over again.
If you are organising a birthday party or other celebration you will already have a date in mind. Research the properties available for your preferred date, in an area convenient for your guests Make a selection of a number of properties. Then ask your friends to rank them in preference as well as giving you the money to pay the deposit. Once you have the money available, contact the properties in order of preference to make a booking. – Don’t leave too long between the initial check on availability and trying to book.
2. Collecting the money.
Most properties are a fixed price for a weekend no matter how large the group. Work out a realistic minimum number within the group that will come, and work out the price range between that number and the maximum number the property can sleep. For Gilfach Wen group sizes over the last year have ranged between 12 and 32. If there are more than 16 people each additional person is only charged for the actual nights stayed and is less than the price for the initial 16 people in the group group.
Tell people the price range, and ask people to pay the price on the minimum number, with the surplus going towards buying the food and drink for the weekend, or you can share it out back to people. Its easier to give money back to those who come, than to ask people for extra money.
3. How to collect the money.
Maybe you see people on a regular basis and they can pay by cash or cheque.
If you talk via email an easy way of gathering money can be to use PayPal. It provides an option for money transfer between friends which is free of charge.
Or you can send people a PayPal invoice to their email address. They do not need to have a PayPal account, and can pay the invoice via their bank account, PayPal account or credit card. There is a small charge for this service which is subtracted from the amount paid to your PayPal account, but it can make it very easy to track who has paid their share, and generate reminders.
4. Collecting deposits and balances.
At Gilfach Wen guests pay a deposit at the time of booking and the balance closer to the date the group arrives, but some online booking services require payment in full at time of booking. When planning the finances within the group, remember that some people may commit to joining and pay the deposit then have to drop out.
Start to ask people for the balance in plenty of time to gather the money in for when you have to make the payment. The contract between the property owner and the group is with the group organiser. Late payments can incur penalties and payment in full may be due if you don’t inform the owner of a cancellation by a deadline.
Many supermarkets offer a delivery service, or click and collect. Check with the property owner which supermarkets deliver in that area.
It is also worth ensuring that the property owner can be there to accept the delivery if you are delayed on the journey. The drivers are not allowed to leave items if no one is there to sign for them. If you miss them, you have to wait for the driver to complete his round and return to the store before you can collect your order from the store.
If you order a delivery to arrive a considerable time after you will arrive, bring enough with you to get the party started until it arrives. There is nothing worse than the look on the faces of people arriving to a stag do when you tell them there is nothing to drink other than tea and coffee. – The booze will not be delivered for another 4 hours. – Yes it has happened here.
6. Who pays for what.
Some groups all chip in to a fund which pays for the food and drinks for the weekend. They also have a formal or informal rota for cooking and washing up. Others divide the work with each family within the group taking on the responsibility of providing one meal for the whole group. The BBQ is a popular option as it turns catering from a chore into part of the party.
7. Check what is included.
Do you need to bring toilet rolls, tea towels, washing up liquid, rubbish bags? (The answer for Gilfach Wen is that all are provided.)
8. Book transport in advance.
If some of the group are planning to travel by train and you are staying in a rural property get advice from the property owner if there is a local taxi company. It is better to plan ahead than to have to ask around who is available to give people a lift when they are rushing for a train. Yes, that has happened as well.
9. Gathering contact details for members of the group.
Ensure you ask the friends of friends joining the group for contact details. Under recent changes to fire regulations a professionally run businesses will ask you to provide the name, address, telephone number and email address of every adult member of the group and the name, address and age of younger group members. I have built on this new regulation to offer groups leaders a helping hand, sharing information with all the group to help them plan their stay.