When you're planning a trip for your ministry, it's important to build a framework of time. Planning airfare for group trips can get tricky. By planning in advance and optimising a trip timeline, you'll be stewarding your resources well. Here, we've put together a sample timeline for group airfare contracts (teams of 10 or more) for you to reference:
First thing to know is that pricing and availability for most airfare open 11 months in advance. Secondly, the process for a group contract is great for groups because it allows you to book far in advance, typically with a 100% refundable deposit (usually $50-$100 per person). So if you gathered interest for a trip with 10 or more people, we can lock in low rates for you early, and then if it fell through, group contracts allow you the flexibility to cancel without penalty up to 90 days before the flight. (Remember, you don't need names up front to initially reserve seats!)
Group contracts give you peace of mind that you have both a good price and the flexibility to cancel if needed. After you lock in the airfare, you can focus on strategic planning, recruiting and team preparation. Strategic planning may be as simple for you as confirming dates that are available for the organization on the ground where you are headed. For others who may be establishing a new relationship, this part may take a bit longer. As long as your group contract for the airfare is in place, you have time to walk through the more detailed aspects of what the team should expect on the trip. For your recruiting process, you have solid details and info for effective team preparation, fundraising events, and team meetings.
Even if you do not know exactly how many people you will have when you're first planning your trip, we typically recommend reserving as many seats as you think you might be able to fill and is feasible for your budget as most airlines allow us to drop that number down to 10pax so long as we do it earlier than 90 days prior to your departure date = "Utilization Date". Your final names and final payments are not typically due until around 45 days prior to your departure date (aka the "Ticketing Date"). After this date, the tickets become non-refundable, but we can typically still make name changes (for a fee, which varies from airline to airline) up until around 7 days prior to departure in case you have someone that needs to cancel but have a replacement for them.
Being able to take your time and truly cultivate a solid team and relationship with your contact on the ground where you're headed will certainly increase your chances of a successful trip. Therefore, your team members will buy into what you are trying to do and will be more likely to go again.
Written by: Hannah Victoria Bewley, Zach Douglas, and Andrew Smith
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