Tips for planning a local holiday with friends
A holiday with your closest friends is a sure-fire way to create lasting memories, inside jokes, and fun group selfies Facebook will remind you of ten years from now. But before enjoying the fun stuff, sorting out logistics can often prove to be a bit of a minefield.
To help you plan your next group holiday without a hitch – or group chat tiff – Hilda Joubert, a Reservations & Rentals Manager for Dream Hotels & Resorts and Julie Olum, travel writer behind Frame Ambition, offer the following advice:
Get the ball rolling
In any group situation, someone needs to act as the appointed middleman and point of contact between the group and the chosen holiday accommodation. If that so happens to be you, remember, you can’t please everyone, but you can try your best to make sure everyone is heard.
“From my experience, I think everyone should have a say on the destination and give input or nominate a place. Taking a vote is one way of doing that,” says Olum. “If the group agrees first on key things like budget, dates, available activities, it will make the decision-making easier. This will probably be the hardest part of the planning, so don’t give up. You’ll eventually get there!”
Creating a separate WhatsApp group for the trip is more likely to reach everyone immediately, she adds. “Just make sure it’s clear to everyone that the group is for messages about the trip only!”
Communication and delegating
One appointed person should pass on information about the rooming list, preferences and dietary requirements, which should be confirmed before a booking is made. They can also help delegate who helps with what.
“To take the pressure off of one person, it is much easier for others in the group to be put in charge of one aspect of the group holiday: accommodation, pre-booked activities and flights or fuel for the shared car,” adds Olum. “That could also mean everyone sending their money to the person in charge beforehand, or reimbursing once everything is paid for, which is typically less messy.”
To avoid awkward money conversations among friends, manage all trip-related expenses with a free app such as Splitify.
More on making payments
Try not to leave things open-ended when it comes to people confirming they are definitely in, by giving them a final date by which to do so. The same goes for making payments, our experts say.
“Once everyone has agreed on the group budget, resort location, requirements pertaining to meals, self-catering and activities prior to choosing a resort, use your required dates for the deposit as a guideline,” comments Joubert. “You can also make arrangements with the resort to pay the deposit in instalments over a period.”
Encourage on-time payment by relaying cancellation policies to your group. “Until the agreed deposit or full payment received, many resorts will be at liberty to release the reservation without notice to you,” she says.
Breakages and damage
Avoid an uncomfortable situation at the end of a great holiday by mentioning this subject before the trip, as liability remains with the person in contact with the accommodation, for all breakages and damages, says Joubert.
Olum feels the person responsible for any breakages or damages should be liable for any fine or replacement fee.
“However, if it was accidental, no fault of anyone’s in particular, or it somehow goes unresolved, the group should all pitch in. Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that, but this does need to be addressed before the holiday begins so that everyone follows through on what was agreed,” Joubert says.
“I’m obsessed with boats and boat-life, so it was only fitting, for my last birthday as a Port Elizabeth resident, that I took some friends out on a Sunday’s River cruise to soak in the sunset,” Olum recalls.
“Organising group activities like this or, say, horse riding or hiking in the Drakensberg, sunset cruises or game drives in one of our national parks, can add a new element of fun and bonding time on holiday.”
“For large groups, we suggest booking activities well in advance to avoid disappointment. Withourproperties, this can be pre-paid or be paid on arrival,” Joubert adds.
“To get more friends on board, inquire about special perks for groups, as discounts often depend on group size, booking date and availability. For instance, Dream Hotels and Resorts provides one complimentary single room from 10 to 20 fully paid rooms, and two single rooms from 21 or more fully paid rooms.”
A group holiday with friends is a great way to re-connect this summer without relying on memes and WhatApp messages or voice notes. Whether it’s a getaway near the bush or the beach, it might even spark an annual reunion that you can all look forward to each year.