Anyone who’s ever been involved in organizing a student trip knows that these adventures don’t just happen—they take hours and hours of planning. Keeping up with all the details can be overwhelming.

Since hotels make up a disproportionately large share of the trip price, landing a good hotel at the best rates is a top priority with any group planner. Drawing on the expertise of trip leaders and tour operators, our editors have compiled a compendium of pithy tips for navigating the choppy seas of hotel planning.

Negotiating with Hotels for Student Group Rates

hotel-icon-has-secure-storage-in-room-7683If you are not working with a tour operator, you will need to negotiate directly with the hotel sales department to get the best deal for your group. You’ll rest more comfortably by following these tips:

  • Be prepared to provide the sales department with the approximate number of sleeping rooms needed, the types of rooms needed, and the dates you want
  • Book early to ensure your preferred dates and save money, and avoid national holidays unless your trip is based around it
  • Find out if there are certain dates and times when rates are the lowest
  • Ask if free breakfast is included and whether it is continental, buffet or a full hot breakfast
  • Inquire about the hotel’s comp policy–free rooms provided for every so many reservations
  • Determine if the room rate includes all taxes, tips and hotel/resort fees
  • Ask about free meeting/party rooms and welcome receptions
  • Find out if there is free internet access
  • Inquire if the hotel has been used by other student groups
  • What special perks are available for student groups?  Be prepared with a wish list of extra benefits you would like to be provided for your group − you may be surprised what you can get just by asking
  • Don’t select a hotel just because it offers the lowest price − quality may be compromised
  • Use technology to your advantage; websites like allow you to post your group request and multiple hotels will bid on your business

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know the following:

  • Be aware of the last day to cancel without losing money
  • Know the deposit and final payment date
  • Find out if the hotel has an attrition clause on unused rooms
  • Get everything in writing, from total price to number of rooms to the smallest promised service
  • Research the safety of the neighborhood where the hotel is located using websites like
  • Investigate the distance from the central city or major attractions using sites like
  • Inquire about the hotel’s security program. Inquire about airport/mall transportation – if you have long days on the bus, this will help out the driver immensely

Hotel Disciplinary Matters for Students

do-not-disturbKids can act up and get into trouble, especially during down time at the hotel after a long day of sightseeing. It probably won’t happen in your group, but here are some guidelines to follow just in case:

  • Create an instruction handout for students detailing all expectations including curfew, free time, alcohol/drug policies, etc
  • Conduct a brief meeting that re-emphasizes appropriate hotel behavior and inform students of the possible consequences if they do not follow rules
  • Make sure each student has a hotel business card in case they get lost (most common excuse for those who broke curfew!)
  • Announce where the daily itinerary will be posted in the hotel lobby
  • Advise against using hotel telephone service
  • Make sure all mini bars that cannot be locked are divested of alcohol
  • Enforce the rules! If students realize that their actions will not be followed with consequences, they may attempt to see how far they can bend the rules

Download the 2015 Edition of the Student Travel Planning Guide Today to see this and other great articles!