Recently, a fellow SYTA Safety Committee member shared great ideas about what to consider when booking a hotel for student groups. Genie Stevenson is the Director of Sales and Partnerships at BookMyGroup, so I invited her to share best practices for this edition.
Generally, tour operators seek common information when selecting a hotel:
- Availability on requested dates.
- Room rates for single- through quad-occupancy including city and country tax, state occupancy tax, resort fees.
- Is breakfast included or is the breakfast price inclusive of tax and service charge?
- Is there a baggage cost?
- Does the hotel have interior corridors?
- Can any balcony or window be secured?
- Are the beds double/double or queen/double?
- Number of doubles per floor.
- Number of elevators.
- Are there equipment storage rooms?
- Breakfast seating capacity.
- Motorcoach parking on or off the property and at what cost?
- Hotel location and accessibility to events.
- Investigate surrounding neighborhoods.
- Student rooms should not connect with outside guestrooms.
- Fire exits should be checked to ensure they are not locked or blocked.
- Ask the hotel to provide room listings.
- Pay attention to the hotel’s condition including public areas and guestrooms.
- Confirm the hotel will have bedding and bathroom amenities for the number of students in your group.
Genie advises remembering these key points:
- Ask for a menu to ensure it is student-compatible and confirm serving hours.
- Find out if comps are per night or cumulative.
- Is there a reduced rate for bus driver breakfast or is it included?
- Availability of free meeting room for the group.
- Is there a swimming pool on the property? Learn if it’s indoor or outdoor, the capacity, available hours, if a lifeguard is required, and if there’s any additional charge for a lifeguard.
- Is there free internet access in guestrooms or public areas? If not, what is the cost?
- Is front desk staff trained to accommodate student groups?
- Name and mobile number for the Manager on Duty when the group arrives.
- Can the hotel turn off phones and movies in the rooms?
- Are there mini bars, bottles of water or anything else in the room that may create additional charges?
- The latest date to cancel without penalty.
- Deposit and final payment date.
- Can the room block be reduced without penalty by a certain date?
- Will the hotel contract be easily read and understood?
- Does the hotel contract include every financial aspect and promised service?
- Can a security firm be retained to watch each floor, or does the hotel provide security?
Last, Genie notes, always read the contract carefully—and never sign it if you do not understand.
When booking hotels, a tour operator might want to consider relying on a professional who stays current with the hotel market, regularly conducts site inspections, knows the brands, and has student travel experience. Tour operators will then be supported in selecting a student-friendly hotel, understanding the contract process, and managing any problems that could arise prior to or during the trip.
Here’s wishing you all safe and healthy travels!
Written by Genie Stevenson, Director of Sales and Partnerships, BookMyGroup, and Michael Bowers, Safety Consultant, Center for Student Travel Safety.