Having a destination event or party is nothing new, but, generally in the past has been the exclusive concept for weddings. Not so anymore. With so many travel options, packages and discounts, traveling specifically for an event is becoming much more common. From bachelorette/bachelor parties, to milestone birthday parties to significant wedding anniversaries, the ability to accommodate anything from a small, intimate, jaunt to a major blowout event is absolutely possible.
But where do you start? The options are limitless and trawling the internet for deals, packages, combos, places etc can take up copious amounts of your time….time that you just don’t have. Where should you start and what should you do?
First, just think about where you want to go. Is it somewhere hot or is weather not a factor? Do you want to be able to travel by car or are you okay to hop on a plane? What are the people you’d like to celebrate with able or willing to do? The first stumbling block is really isolating what is feasible for everyone but that still is what you want to do.
Next, when you’ve narrowed down your selection, you can start the planning. Places to check would be:
- Internet travel sites, including ones that may specialize in packaged travel
- Many airlines also offer package deals and these can be even better than travel sites with fewer flight connections and more hotel choices. Don’t discount looking there too.
- You may also consider working with a travel agent. If you don’t have the time to look for everything yourself, tell a travel agent exactly what you are looking for, how many people could be in your group, what your budget is and what you want included. Then they’ll go to work finding various options for you and you can select what would work best for you and your group
Really work closely with the hotel or resort that you finally choose. Many, if not all, can and will be able to assist and accommodate whatever it is you will need. Have a good idea of what you would like your event to be like and what you would like to experience with your guests. Beyond the logistics of the actual event, the property can and should be your contact in coordinating outings for everyone like tours, golf, beach excursions, dinner reservations, shows…the list is limitless so really engage with a key point person at the property to find out all of your options. When you can’t see or touch or view a property beforehand, you really have to rely heavily on your point person to provide the visual of what is possible.
The most important thing you need to keep a handle on is the contract. If you have been working with a travel agent, these documents will likely be passed through by them. If you have arranged things yourself, you will be receiving the information from the hotel or resort. Really know all the drop-dead dates for deposits and number guarantees. When are the deposits due? How much are the deposits for? What is the cancellation policy? Have a very concrete idea of the hotel or resorts cancellation policy before you commit to anything. People have been left out in the dark when an establishment has cancelled their event with no deposit return because they did not know all the details before committing. I know it can be tedious, but really do read the fine print.
And please, be realistic. We are all guilty of looking past a few things because we’ve fallen in love with a particular venue or idea. But you have to keep a good head on your shoulders. If it is not spelled out, be wary. There are so many resorts and hotels in so many awesome places that you don’t need to settle for someplace that leaves things up in the air. Confidence is key here, and confidence comes with knowledge. So do your research; you’ll be glad you did.
The last item you should think about is third-party cancellation insurance. If this is a big deal for you, like a wedding or a major birthday, and you will be spending some money on making this happen, insurance is not a bad idea. It can be a bit of a downer to think that something would go wrong, but, just like knowing all the details of the contract up front, being prepared in the event that something changes is so important.
I will always re-iterate that careful and complete planning beforehand helps to alleviate anxiety and stress and this is even more true when you are planning a destination party. Destination parties are so much fun, you’ll have a blast.
Photo credits: Mindy Weiss; David Tutera