After a year of quarantine and uncertainty, many people are craving two things: the opportunity to see family and friends in person, and a chance to get out to explore. Perhaps that’s why many travelers have started planning trips with loved ones—to satisfy those two cravings in one fell swoop. If you’re interested in reconnecting with the world and reconnecting with the people you care most about, you’re in luck. A group trip is surprisingly easy to organize.
Whether you have your sights on Italy or France, Chile or Costa Rica, Napa Valley or Arizona—on a Guided, Self-Guided, or Guided Bike & Boat Vacation—here’s your easy three-step guide to organizing group travel.
Step 1: Reach Out
As a guest recently shared with us, deciding who to invite is one of the most important aspects of planning a group trip. Choosing people who enjoy cycling, whose appetite for being active and spontaneous matches yours, is important. If you don’t already have a group of people in mind, it’s helpful to start by jotting down a list of potential fellow travelers. Don’t feel like you have to overthink it, however: many group organizers have found that it works well to take suggestions from the people they invite. Perhaps they’ll have a friend-of-a-friend in mind—or a mutual friend you haven’t thought of.
Here’s our advice to help you put the travel bug in everyone’s ears, whether you’ve identified your destination ahead of time or not:
- Email a personal letter to active-minded family and/or friends. Avoid a form letter here. When people feel like you’re writing specifically to them, they are more likely to respond positively. And give some thought to how active your invitees are. You want to be sure they’ll be fit enough to enjoy a bicycling vacation.
- Invite friends from a past VBT trip. More than 98% of our guests say they’d travel with us again, so chances are pretty high that they’ll be open to another round. If you bonded with someone on a previous VBT trip, they’ll most likely be eager to join you on your next one.
- Get in touch with fellow club members. If you belong to a college alumni group, cycling club, book group, church group, or other social group, let them know about your plans and that you’d love to have them along.
- Connect on video. Many close friends haven’t had a chance to see each other in a year or more. Just seeing your face on Zoom or Facetime will help remind them of good times you’ve had in the past—and the potential for fun times to come.
- Use social media. Once you finalize your destination, post details on your social media feeds like Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms you might subscribe to. You can also “Create an Event” in Facebook to generate interest. Both are great ways to grow your group.
As you start reaching out to guests, be sure to reach out to the VBT Travel Team as well. We’re happy to help with all aspects of building your group. We know what works because we’ve helped hundreds of other group organizers successfully grow their groups.
Step 2: Limit the Menu
Some Group Organizers are hesitant to choose a destination for everyone else. If it’s more your style to let the group as a whole decide where to go, you’ll want to present your travelers with only a few options.
Why? Well, we all remember what it’s like to be a kid in a candy store. You cast your gaze over dozens of sweets, but you’re only allowed to choose a few. It feels like an impossible decision and so you freeze, unable to pick even just one. That’s decision paralysis, and you don’t need us to tell you that we’re prone to it as adults, too. So rather than presenting your group with an entire world of options, it’s worth zeroing in on just a few trips.
Many group organizers know their group so well that they can winnow down the choices on their own. If you need a hand, VBT can help you narrow the selection, perhaps by country, by activity level, or some other factor—depending on the needs of your group. Once we help you develop a short-list, it will be easier for everyone to decide, whether by vote or some other method.
But it’s also important that you, as group organizer, make a decision. Your group might decide by democratic vote, for instance, to take a VBT Bicycling Vacation to The Netherlands. Maybe the minority of voters prefer Spain. It’s up to you to make the final call; in the end, most group members recognize sharing the experience matters more than the destination.
Step 3: Stay in Touch
Once everyone is signed up, the fun really begins. In fact, it’s almost as much fun to share the excitement of your upcoming trip as it is to hit the road together.
VBT handles all the trip-related correspondence with your group members directly, so there’s no need for you to update them every time you hear from us. That takes a lot of pressure off you. It also lets you focus on getting ready to travel and sharing the anticipation with your fellow travelers.
For instance, some VBT groups have enjoyed getting together to train for their rides—a great way to connect and to bond over a shared goal. If scheduling or geography keeps group members apart, they might share weekly riding goals and keep each other informed of their progress. That also helps ensure that everyone is fit for the trip.
You can also encourage group members to share little nuggets of destination information they stumble on as they’re researching the trip on a shared chat or email chain. Everyone might like to know, for instance, about that village you’re riding through that takes great pride in its unique bike shop!
If you want everyone to feel engaged, you might even poll members about hobbies, interests, talents, or specializations. If there’s a photographer in the group, she or he might agree to be the official trip shutterbug. A history buff might enjoy providing context about a city or site. This helps everyone feel like they “own” something and are contributing to the adventure.
Come departure day, you need only enjoy the experience! How much or how little you do during the trip is completely up to you. Some Group Organizers prepare a small gift for each traveler and present them at the welcome dinner. If there’s a birthday or other milestone date that falls during the trip, you can work with your VBT trip leader to arrange a surprise.
And there’s one thing all Group Organizers take great pleasure in—sitting back and congratulating themselves for putting the wheels in motion for an unforgettable journey with family and friends.
Interested in organizing a trip with friends or family? Reach out to our Group Travel Team today to start planning!