Tips for booking a group holiday
Tips for party leaders booking a group ski holiday
Group ski holidays with you family or friends make for some of the best memories of your life, so of course you want to get it right! But it can be stressful, especially if it’s your first time…
If you’re in charge of organising your group ski trip this year, you can make it much easier for yourself if you follow these steps below:
1. Get some commitment!
Your life will be a million times easier if you can get everyone to commit to these three things right from the beginning:
b) number of people
Now you have some fixed information which narrows down the millions of possibilities to a mere few hundred! Cutting down on the variables is completely vital to make the research process much more smooth. For example, try looking for a chalet/hotel for 10-25 people any time in January or February, anywhere in France… You’ll be researching for weeks! If you’re looking at catered chalets for 14 guests around £900 per head in mid-March in the Three Valleys, then your job is already way more easy.
“Book at least 6 months in advance for the best accommodation and service.”
Don’t end up camping in the snow! If you’re booking a group ski trip for 6 or more people then you’ll have much more choice of chalets, resorts and rooms if you book early. Many of our holidays are booked at least 9 months in advance so if you are travelling in peak weeks and in a group, don’t leave it too late!
2. Time to talk money
The height of awkwardness, we know… But asking individuals to give a budget is a good way to make sure that you can get some prices everyone feels comfortable with, and helps you to put together some cheaper and more expensive options.
“Contact independent operators for a personal quote”
When researching potential operators, it’s both reassuring and quicker if you can contact companies directly for a quote – often there are discounts available for eg. returning customers, groups and children which you could overlook if getting a quote online. Contacting smaller tour operators is also a great way to judge the service levels and get help with the anything complicated about your group, eg. children’s rooms, people arriving midweek, dietary requirements etc.
3. Comparing options
All ski holidays are different! Some include travel, you can choose between self-catered and catered, chalets, hotels, ski-in, ski-out, shuttle service, local buses… Whether you use a spreadsheet or pen and paper, you’ll need to compare the prices against what’s included. Here are some suggestions:
a) Price per person
b) Catering included?
c) Travel (either included, or the rough cost of flights and transfers)
d) Extras (eg. hot tub, complimentary bar, log fire)
e) Your feelings about accommodation: eg. large rooms, all en-suite etc.
f) Your feelings about service (easy to contact, do you feel you’ll be well looked after?)
g) What extra costs are there? (Hotel for early flight, restaurant meals if self-catered, cleaning charges in apartment, drinks – are wine and beer included or not?)
h) How much is a lift pass and how much for ski hire?
4. Picking the cream of the crop
Using the list above will help you to compare your group ski holiday options at a glance. But how to narrow it down? Use your instincts here: anything you don’t get a good feeling about can be scrapped, as can any possibilities that don’t feel flexible eg. for people coming from different airports, children etc. If you receive good service from a company, then this usually reflects a positive experience once in resort, which is really important! Have a look at the company’s reviews – are there a lot of positives? How have they dealt with any negative feedback?
“Trust your instincts – if you get a good feeling about a company, you’re probably right!”
Now’s the time to provide your group with your top choices, giving your reasons. Pre-empt any questions to speed up the decision-making period, eg. are there free lifts for beginners? How much would ski hire cost for people with their own boots? Putting in some hours for research now will help you later on!
5. Getting organised
Once your decision has been made, then it’s time to plan what needs to happen next, and what deadlines you have. Marking these things in your (and your group’s) diary will save stress and questions later on. Keeping everyone informed is vital – no-one likes last minute surprises!
a) Deposit due – ensure everyone transfers the money straight away to avoid confusion later.
b) Balance due – don’t miss this date!
c) Group information – it really helps the ski company to know the following information in advance. Here at Ski Talini we have a booking system which you can log into to input the info in your own time. You can also pass the log in details to all your group members, meaning that they can add their own particular details – time to cut out the middle man and get them to do some work! Here’s what you’ll need to collate from your group:
i) Party Details – names, contact details, DOB
ii) Room Allocations – check the website for floorplans which will help you
iii) Dietary Requirements – it’s really important that your host/chef isn’t surprised with 2 vegans and a dairy-free on arrival day! If you’re with a good company then they’ll cope, but generally it’s less stressful if they are already aware! At Ski Talini, we encourage chefs and guests to chat before arrival so that they can be 100% on top of their game from the moment you walk in the chalet door.
iv) Lift Passes – there are usually some different options with lift passes. Check your company’s website for the details or just ask. In St Martin de Belleville, skiers can have a local area pass which is cheaper (and better for beginners), or a full Three Valleys pass which we’d recommend for anyone who is confident on blues and the odd red. You’ll also be asked about adding insurance to your pass, so if you’re not sure, do ask!
v) Ski Hire – who requires ski hire? Just skis? Snowboarders? Helmets? Get these details straight before your arrival and it will speed up the process in the hire shop.
vi) Travel – at Ski Talini we don’t include travel which means that you’re fully flexible to arrive from anywhere on earth! If you provide details on your ETA and provide phone numbers then we’ll be fully up to speed on your arrival times, and can help should you be delayed or lost en route! We can also help you to organise transfers through one of our recommended suppliers.
vi) Lessons – you’re not on your own here either! We can help you to organise lessons for your level, budget and either group or private sessions. We’re lucky to have some great options here in St Martin de Belleville, but bear in mind that during peak weeks it is certainly better to get these booked sooner rather than later.
6. Countdown time!
Help your friends out and send them our useful packing list to ensure the vital things don’t get forgotten. Get hold of the tour operator’s resort number (office or mobile) and save it into your phone, you never know when you might need it!
Remind everyone (especially those who have a bit of a reputation for being disorganised!) of precise dates, flights, times and meeting points. If there’s a worst-case-scenario, it might be worth having an action plan, should anyone miss flights. If you’re all on a transfer together, where will you wait? Make sure you have plenty of charge in your phone in case things don’t turn out as planned!
If you are in a pickle and aren’t sure what to do, ring your tour operator’s resort manager or overseas office – often they’ll be able to help with contacts or speaking the local language if you’re not able to.
7. Daily schedule
Each group has its own daily rhythm, but it’s always nice to meet up for lunch during your ski days, or reconvene for a drink or two once the lifts are shut. A good holiday company will help recommend restaurants and bars for this, and will know the area like the back of their hand so will be able to advise on where would be good to meet up for any non-skiers, children, those with ski school etc.
“Get local recommendations for restaurants and bars“
At Ski Talini we often book restaurants for larger groups as it’s not always advisable to turn up at a busy restaurant 1pm and expect to get a table for 12! Whatever happens during the day, you’ll all be meeting up for mealtimes which are a great way to relax and enjoy each other’s company. If you’ve chosen a catered chalet then this is a great way to really reduce the stress – it means no-one has to cook, wash up or shop!
8. Share your feedback
Well done! Hopefully everyone had a fabulous time on their ski holiday and is eternally grateful for all your hard work. (You probably did such a great job that you’ll be in charge of booking again next year!)
If your group has any comments about the holiday, tour operators always appreciate feedback – it helps to improve future guests’ experience and it’s a great boost to the resort team to have positive reviews.
>>> Check our Pricing and Availability page.