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At first sight, organizing a ski trip for a group of friends appears simple. However, when you factor in requirements for travel, accommodation, eating, drinking, ski kit, lessons, and lift passes, it’s easy to see why planning is a must. But where do you start? Where can you go for help?
Planning a ski trip with a group of friends is quite practical but does require plenty of planning to make sure everything runs smoothly. Find someone who is happy to be the organizer and ask them to research all the different factors which make up a ski trip. The accommodation, resort, and facilities all must be weighed up. Similarly, all members of the group need to meet beforehand to check for personality clashes.
1. Strength in Numbers
If you have decided, you want to be or have been nominated to be the leader of the group, ask someone else in the group that you trust to help you with the organization. Make it clear to your helper from the outset that you are the overall leader in charge of decision-making to stop confusion.
It might seem like booking is going to be a breeze, but you will discover there are numerous, often small, things that need sorting out. Having someone to help you will halve the work and lessen the stress.
2. The Early Bird
It might sound like overkill but planning a year ahead for your trip can really pay. Booking soon after the last season finishes enables you to take advantage of early-bird booking discounts and you also have the pick of the rooms in the accommodation.
In Europe, chalets that take larger groups often get snapped up quickly during January.
3. How many are in the Group? Which Dates?
The total number in the group will be determined to some degree by the chosen dates and the overall cost per person. Smaller groups of four or five are much easier to manage but you will get little cost saving from a small group.
Conversely, a large group of 10 will get a better discount on accommodation and possibly a free lift ticket. However, on the downside when you’re out skiing with 10 people, you can waste a lot of time standing by the run waiting for the others to catch up.
Use your booking agent as a source of information. They should have a good overview of the resort and facilities, as well as tips to make your trip more enjoyable.
Offer a few possible dates to the group and gauge the reaction of who is available.
Choose whether you need to go during school vacation or not. Some European resorts have little snow before Christmas, so travel later or choose a higher resort.
4. Which resort?
To some degree, your chosen resort will be determined by the availability of accommodation. Provide your group members with three accommodation possibilities and see which one is the most popular.
Don’t try and offer too much choice, as you will most likely just get caught up in endless discussions. The members of the group must understand it’s a group enterprise, which requires some degree of compromise.
If you are traveling to your resort by plane, factor in the transfer time from the airport to the resort. In European resorts, the transfer is usually by coach and with some transfers taking more than three hours, it’s well worth checking out the possibilities for a closer resort.
5. Resort Experiences and Nightlife
People have very different expectations of what makes a successful ski trip. Ski enthusiasts will want to ski from dawn till dusk and then collapse in bed at midnight after a few beers. While, at the other extreme, some skiers leave the runs after lunch to take a nap before heading out to the clubs at midnight.
So always point your group members towards the website, which details all the resort experiences (eg. night skiing, bobsleigh) and nightlife that is available.
6. Everyone’s Ability
Establish early on the general ability level of the members of the group. It can quickly get very frustrating for someone whose ability is lower than the group, so they can’t keep up. While equally frustrating for more experienced members who feel they are waiting around all the time.
Quite a few resorts have a mixed selection of runs, which can satisfy most abilities but always check with your booking agent to make sure your chosen resort matches the abilities of the members of your group.
7. See how the Land Lies
If your group includes members that are new to the rest of the group, then make sure you all meet socially before the final booking payments are made. Everyone is making a financial commitment in the hope of enjoying the vacation.
So, if any personality clashes, for example, are going to arise it’s best to check them out before paying and when there is still the chance to switch to plan B.
Once the overall cost of accommodation and food, if included, ski hire, and lift pass are established, ask for a nominal deposit from each member of the group. This demonstrates their commitment to the trip and weeds out those who might find an alternative trip to go on.
Use an old or separate bank account to hold all the monies as they are paid in. It will get hopelessly complicated if you try to juggle these payments with your personal expenditure. When it comes to paying the final bill using a credit card, you will get insurance cover in the event of a problem.
Consider setting up a simple disclaimer, which excludes you from any blame if any part of the skiing trip goes wrong. Situations can change suddenly and unexpectedly, and you shouldn’t be personally held responsible.
Similarly, always get a written acknowledgment from each member of the group that they have taken out adequate travel and ski insurance.
Lives can change unexpectedly, maybe someone loses their job or splits from their partner, so money is suddenly a problem. If a member of your group drops out for whatever reason you need to find someone to fill the place.
Revert to your original list of ‘possibles’ and see if anyone fits the bill. If not ask the group to put out feelers for possible replacements. If you can’t find anyone or this happens at the very last minute the vacation company may refund the cost and if that’s not possible the cost of the spare place is shared across the remaining members.
And most importantly, have fun doing it. If you don’t enjoy organizing, give the task to someone who does. If you’re planning a ski trip for your family, we’ve written a guide for that: 8 Tips for Planning Your First Family Ski Trip
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