You don’t have to have access to a corporate travel program to save money on group air fares for an annual meeting, incentive trip, leisure groups or weddings.
Although airline tickets continue to account for a greater share of event expenses, it’s possible for event and meeting planners to obtain discount air fares for their group events. Of course, most people know that there’s a long list of small print items to disclaim discount fares associated with an event.
1. Book 10 or More Travelers
To receive a group discount on air fares, events require a minimum of 10 or more people traveling to a common destination. Airline requirements will vary their terms as it relates to whether or not the travelers must be booked on the same flight. However, much more flexibility will be extended to group events for association meetings, incentive trips and weddings.
2. Book 11 Months Prior to Travel
It is debatable as to when the most cost effective time to book airline travel may be, but many airlines will allow planners to book as far out as 11 months prior to the date of travel. The earlier when airline tickets are booked, most airlines will still have their more cost effective classes of seats still available.
3. Identify Your Program as a Business Event
Business events are more likely to have attendees who are traveling on multiple flights to the same destination, so airlines offer group travel programs that may be attractive for association meetings and incentive trips. Airlines may offer discount air fares of about 5% off published fares for domestic travel, and the savings may be even more significant depending on the zone where flights originate. These discounts don’t require attendees to originate from the same location.
4. Request Event Planner Discounts
Many airlines may also offer a discount for site inspections performed by event planners, depending on the potential business associated with the event, so it’s important to find out which airline may offer this option to help offset a portion of your travel expenses. And in order to lure more business, some airlines will also extend staff tickets for event and meeting planners that have several programs (possibly even upgrades).
5. Leverage Car Rental Discounts
Many airlines already have established relationships with a variety of car rental companies, and their discounts will be extended to group events. It is probably worth a planner’s time to compare airline discounts for car rental against any direct programs, prior to selecting an airline’s group travel program. This is an additional “value-add” as it relates to finding group event travel savings.