City Escape Holidays considers a group to be a minimum of 10 guests. We handle groups on all of our 24 City Packages and 22 Special Event Packages. However, generally, because of cost pro-ration, economies of scale are best realized for groups of 20 guests or more. Often, from a cost point-of-view, it works out better to put mini-groups on the daily, individual Gray Line sightseeing tours. Our average group size is 16! Chartered vehicles can be arranged for your smaller groups and have access to 14, 18, 24 and 36 passenger coaches for airport transfers and city sightseeing. We do not provide transportation between cities. We are pleased to provide group function arrangements, but can also offer documentation on an individual basis for certain activities such as Hop-on/Hop-off city tours and for Dine-Around plans; we have found that this option provides a personalized aspect to the overall group travel experience.
OFFERING GROUP ARRANGMENTS FOR OVER 40 CITY AND SPECIAL EVENT PACKAGES:
USA: Boston, Branson, Dollywood, Los Angeles, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York,
Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Washington DC, Williamsburg.
CANADA: Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Vancouver, Victoria.
SPECIAL EVENTS: Baseball All Star Game, Branson Christmas Shows, BCS College Football
Championship, Cherry Blossom Parade, Country Music Festival in Nashville, Daytona 500, Elvis Week in Memphis, Essence Festival, French Quarter Festival, Holiday Season – NY, Indy 500, Jazz
Festival, Kentucky Derby, Mardi Gras, Country Christmas in Nashville, New Years Eve-Times Square, Rose Parade, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl & New Year's Eve in New Orleans, Super Bowl, Thanksgiving Parade – NY, US Open Tennis. FOR RESERVATIONS: 800.222.0022
PROCEDURE FOR BOOKING GROUPS WITH US
STEP 1 - Consultation
We start the process with a phone consultation with our group department. During this call, we discuss with you the specifics of the group, such as destination, dates of stay, number of guests, desired hotel, included features and any special needs. For New York City and Branson, we would need to know if shows are required, because the prices for shows are quite different. We also discuss whether the group is large enough to have a chartered motorcoach, or if it would be better to put them on regular daily sightseeing tours. Finally, it is important for us to know if you have a pre-formed group, or if you plan to promote the group; this is a very important issue and may effect the rate that is quoted. This step simply puts us on the same page with you and your requirements. We prefer that you also send us a memo, outlining the details of the group movement.
STEP 2 – We Put Things in Motion
There is no such thing as pre-negotiated group rates at hotels anymore. We now need to contact the hotel to check on availability for the dates you requested. If space is not available at the desired hotel, we contact other similar hotels to check space. We also check show availability, in case of Broadway, Branson and Nashville performances. This process usually takes two to three business days. Sometimes we need to speak with specific contacts at the hotels and if they are not readily available, this step may take a bit longer. The bottom line is that we prepare a quote for you as quickly as possible
STEP 3 – Written Quote with Policies
Our Group Department prices out the program. We include in the costing all the inclusions that were discussed in the original consultation. We fax, or e-mail to you, a written quote which will clearly outline all the particulars such as 1) Hotel, dates & size of the group 2) Included features 3) What is not included 4) General policies 5) Approximate schedule of payments and due dates 6) Your commission. We always quote a gross rate per person, that will be commissionable to your travel agency. Usually, there will be three payments and the amounts vary from hotel to hotel. The first payment is normally 20 to 30% of the anticipated total, with two other payments due along the way. The balance is due about 60 days before arrival.
STEP 4 – The Group is Good to Go
You contact us to let us know that you, and the group, have accepted the quote. This is when we contact the hotel to advise the “definite status” and the hotel sends us a contract. At this point, we are quick to remind you that hotel contracts are binding agreements and that we must adhere to all their procedures!
STEP 5 – We Prepare a Contract
At this point, we thoroughly go over that hotel Contract, with special attention to things like Attrition Penalty - what happens if we start with 20 rooms and wind up with 14?! Usually, hotels are flexible in this regard, because of all the group business we give them. Other important points are: Cancellation – What is the penalty if the group cancels altogether?! Also, we pay special attention to the definite payment dates, amounts and when the Room List is due. We confirm all these details to you in a City Escape Holidays Contract, which you will need to sign and return.
STEP 6 – First Deposit is Due
This is a very important day, because once we receive the initial deposit, we can go to work to set up all the group arrangements. We firm up the hotel, the shows (if required), attractions admissions, meals and work with our transfer and sightseeing companies to put to get all transportation needs in place. Over the next few weeks, we are in touch with you to advise the progress in making the group arrangements and to do any fine-tuning that may be necessary.
STEP 7 – Alterations to the Plan
We realize that the group may request changes to the itinerary along the way. This is no problem and is actually expected. We are happy to make any alterations that are required and will advise you if those changes require a rate adjustment and re-quote. We realize that many groups have second thoughts, after the initial planning with you, and wish to “tweak” the sightseeing, add a museum or delete a meal. We prefer that you put any changes in writing with us, again, to insure that we are on the same page.
We are here to provide exactly what you and your important customers need!
STEP 8 – Final Payment/Room List is Due
We will send reminders about payment due dates. Room List is generally due about thirty days before arrival. We realize that changes may occur to the list and we usually wait until about two weeks before arrival to advise the hotel, so we can give them all the changes at one time. We find that many of our groups actually have the Room List even as the travel agent makes first contact with us, for a quote.
STEP 9 – Documentation
About three weeks before arrival, we send you the complete documentation packets. Included are the following items: 1) Accommodation Voucher to present at the hotel front desk on arrival 2) Group Vouchers for each included feature, whether it be Sightseeing, Airport Transfers, Shows, Attractions Admissions or Meals 3) In the case of tickets Shows, we prefer to have our local representative deliver them to the Group Leader; for sports events, we will include the actual game tickets in the packet or will have our local representative at the destination deliver them to the Group Leader 4) Group Leader Instructions Letter – this is a very important part of the documents, as it lists all local contacts for all included features and their phone numbers, plus important information for airport transfers, Sightseeing tours and other included features. We suggest, in that document, that all arrangements be reconfirmed with the listed contacts, 24 hours before the activity.
STEP 10 – Follow-up
We are always available to solve any situations that occur, after the group movement has begun. We also understand that, on occasion, changes may be required for whatever reason, right at the destination. The Group Leader will have our Group Department Supervisor's cell phone number, in case of emergencies. After the group travels, we conduct a de-briefing with the travel agent to see how everything went.