Most hotels and transportation sent their yearly contracts to travel agent with low season or high season price and those price is not changing. The only reason for price to change is if there is something dramatically happened in the cities/countries e.g oil prices skyrocket, the government imply new taxes and etc.
First of all we need to know, what is group booking?
Group booking is when you want to book seats for more than 9 person in 1 booking number. Normally people do group booking for company or group trip. Before we go further, lets take a look at online booking first.
When you search for flight tickets online, sometimes the price is really cheap.
Let's take a look at Air Asia as an example.
Now, lets search for flight from Kuala Lumpur to Krabi for 1 person. and this is the price that we got: RM99
then lets do the same destination and date but for 9 person.
Can you notice the different? even for 1 and 9 person, there's already a difference of RM40.
So now, say that you have 18 person wanted to go somewhere and the price for the first 9 person is RM200 per person. Quite cheap eh? But I can assure you that 70% of the price for the next 9 person won't be the same. There might be an additional of RM100 or RM200 for the next 9 seats.
This is because all the seats in airline have classes. The seats all are the same really (except for first and business class) but they are separated by classes. Once the lowest class is taken, you will get the next class available and the price will be more expensive. You cannot book for 40 person in 1 booking as the maximum for each booking is 9 seats (numbers are vary for each airlines. Some only allow 6 seats per booking)
This is not only for Air Asia and all the low cost airlines but the same concept applies to full service airlines. The only difference is full service airlines have their reserved seats for group booking but low cost airlines didn't.
1. AVOID PEAK SEASON
It's understandable that most companies will choose date that includes public holiday for their company retreat for so many reason. But if you would like to save on flight price and spent more on the ground arrangement, you might need to reconsider company retreat during public holiday. This is the time where airlines make money and they won't really negotiate on the price during peak season.
2. PLAN WAY AHEAD
If your company still want to do retreats during public holiday, then no worries. One of the way to save is by planning ahead. If you would like to do a trip during Labor day, just make sure you book the flight at least 6 months ahead. You do not need to pay in full anyway. That's the beauty of group booking. Usually airline will require only bookings fees and 30% of the ticket price as deposit (depends on airline). You do not need to submit any name so, no need to worries if there is any changes within that 6 months. Sometimes they do not even charge penalty if you cancel some of the seats, but that is usually 45 days before departure dates and again, it's depends on airlines.
One of an example that we encounter on this topic is during our clients company trip during Malaysia Independence day. The planning was done in March and we manage to get flight to Jakarta via Garuda Airlines for only RM500 per person. Then, few weeks before the departure, they need to add 2 more seats and guess what? The price already rake up to RM1200 per person.
Airlines change fares constantly, often multiple times a week. So when it comes to buying an airline ticket, timing is everything. Plan ahead.
3. NARROW DOWN YOUR PLACE SELECTION
Usually company will have a budget for their retreat, so advise your travel agent/planner so they can inform you which destinations is available with that budget. To make you understand this point is with this scenario:
- Company A come to travel agent with request for 5 places.
- Travel agent then request for group price at airlines.
- Airlines saw that there are request for 5 places with 2 timings each that's mean airline will need to provide travel agent with 10 prices. To make things easy, they send a normal price to travel agents.
This actually can be avoided if you focus on one or two destinations only. One of the way is like we mentioned before, inform your travel planner your budget and what do you prefer for current holiday. Is it beach/shopping or city retreat? Give as much information so you can know where you can go with that budget.
Let's say the budget per person is RM1500 this year and you are looking for a beach holiday. You have been to Bali last 2 years and would like a different place this time. Then your travel planner will suggest you to go to Krabi or Phuket and provide you with itinerary. After comparison is made and the destination confirmed, travel planner will proceed with airlines on the destination and like we always wrote in our request "This is a confirmed clients and they requested for this destination. Please provide us with the best price available", really make a different in the fare quoted. The difference can be use to upgrade ground arrangement rather than waste it on the fare price.
4. GROUP SIZE
Some company have policy for their staff to travel. Some allow everyone in the same flight, some have restriction and separate them into 2 flights. Some even have maximum number of pax can travel in one flight. As an example when we do a company trip for an insurance company 80 pax, the max staff in 1 flight is 30 person only
For this point, it is actually quite challenging as it is vary for each airlines.
But from our experience, if you would like to use low-cost carrier, it is best if you can put everyone in one flight so you can request for special air fare rate. But if you prefer full service airlines, then you might need to separate the group into few departures so you can get the lowest airfare for your trip.
So that's about it. All this information is based on our experienced. We have made hundreds of proposals for hundreds of companies for their retreat and we can see the pattern of airline fare as we go. You can use this as a guidance for your company/group retreat.
Remember. Avoid peak season if possible. Plan your retreat at least 6 months before departure date. Narrow down your destination selection and identify your group size. All these will definitely assist you to get the lowest airfare possible for your company retreat.
Have a feeling good holiday!
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If you need our assistance on your company retreat, please contact Fariz at firstname.lastname@example.org / 0196990277
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Alternatively you can also contact our office at: 03 4141 9999