No one said that planning student travel was easy, and that goes double for booking air fares. Sure, getting a group of 10 or 20 students into a hotel or an attraction is usually straightforward, a simple matter of phoning or emailing ahead and making reservations. Do it early enough in advance, and problems are few and far between.
But booking air travel? That’s an entirely different beast — and one that can be remarkably hard to tame. There seem to be only two options:
- Set the itinerary and let each student handle his or her booking, hoping that everyone gets onto the same flight.
- Reserve seats yourself, possibly paying for the entire deposit and praying that your school doesn’t somehow wind up footing the bill.
Neither of these options are ideal. In the first scenario, you’re risking the airline treating your group as a bunch of separate travelers. And why wouldn’t they, since everyone booked for themselves? This leads to the tooth-grinding potential scenario of someone getting left behind or the less-scary but expensive problem of cancelled, lost or changed tickets.
The second option not only makes your school at least temporarily financially liable for a bunch of airline tickets, it also cuts into the sense of freedom and excitement that comes with taking these excursions.
However, the concept of group bookings, when done right, can guarantee everyone stays together, limit the initial cash outlay and give the flexibility needed to accommodate unexpected changes.
Four Reasons Group Flights are Better Than Individual Bookings
You might think that the main advantage of booking group flights is the price. While some airlines and services can find a bit of wiggle room in the rates, the cost per ticket may not be all that much different. It may even be higher. So why bother booking group flights as a group?
- There’s much more flexibility in paying for group flights. The price can be guaranteed for up to 11 months in advance, and the deposits are usually refundable.
- Payment terms are easier. When you book a single ticket, you usually have to pay up front, and you may or may not get a refund if things change. When you book a group of ten or more, final payments are not due until 45 days before departure.
- Changes are built into the system. Plans can evolve over the 11 months between putting a deposit down on your tickets and actually leaving, so when you book as a group, you have a little more insurance against unexpected modifications. As long as the total stays above 10, you can reduce seat numbers for your group at no charge, and seats don’t have to be assigned to individual passengers until 45 days before you leave. There’s much less worry about incurring various fees.
- Everyone travels together for the same price. This is the best reason of all.
So group flights are the way to go. But there’s an even better way to manage them: a group payment page.
Making Things Even Easier with a Student Travel Group Payment Page
If you’re in charge of booking your student travel group’s airfare and you have plenty of time to keep track of things, then you totally can babysit the entire process yourself. If you have other things to do (and we’re guessing you do), then you can use StudentUniverse’s Group Payment Page service to manage it for you. Here’s how it works:
- The group leader chooses the flight itinerary and pays a refundable deposit. Once the group is booked, airfare prices will not change.
- StudentUniverse creates a custom page showing the group’s itinerary, which will lead to the payment page.
- Students pay StudentUniverse directly for their fare, and the school’s deposit is reimbursed.
- The group leader can monitor payments in real time and will know when all flights are confirmed.
- If you have less than ten passengers, StudentUniverse can still keep your group together with co-branded affiliate pages. Affiliate pages can allow passengers to extend their trips as long as they comply with the stipulations of the group itinerary.
Group payment page services allow student group travel coordinators to meet their level of care duties by assuring that all students travel together on the same flight. But they also reduce the group leader’s direct involvement with the process. One less thing to worry about? We’ll take that!