New websites take the pain out of planning group travel
A wave of new startups is making it easier for travelers to book group trips, such as for weddings and reunions.
While it has always been possible to use the best-marketed travel websites, such as Expedia and Booking.com, to book a set of rooms, now specialty websites can further streamline the group-travel process.
Let’s say friends who live in different parts of the globe want to meet in Rio de Janeiro to see the Summer Olympics in 2016. One option for planning the trip is to use long chains of emails, which risk becoming unclear or complex. Another option is to use a group-planning website where all of the travelers see the same search results and proposed itinerary – keeping everyone on the same page, as it were. Here are a few such sites:
Travefy emphasizes help for small groups. It stands out for collecting payments from every traveler before, during, and after a trip, helping to divvy up the cost equitably — and thus assuring the organizer that he or she won’t get stiffed. Founded in 2013, the site has put significant effort into its mobile apps, which present the final itinerary in a format for easy consultation while on the go. Its inventory options tend to work best for trips that originate in the United States.
ComboTrip has similar aspirations to Travefy, though its starting point is helping global travelers plan international destinations, including a wide range of restaurants and attractions worldwide. The site is still in beta and lacks mobile apps or a payment-splitting feature.
Groupize.com is especially good at helping planners with truly large gatherings at destinations, such as for weddings, reunions of extended family, and youth groups. Founded in 2010, it has the most number of hotels that offer instant quotes and confirmations when you attempt to book large blocks of rooms, such as for between 5 and 25 rooms. (Typically, hotels ask for organizers to submit a request and then wait a few days until offering a price quote. Groupize offers instant answers.) When requesting a quote, you can usually ask for guests to pay for their own rooms or the organizer pay for all the rooms. Groupize’s mobile apps present more than 100,000 hotels worldwide as booking options, with global coverage, but they don’t let you split payments or include restaurants, attractions, or other elements of a trip.