Are you planning a trip for your staff, students or members of your club? Whether it’s for a day trip or longer tour, it often makes sense for large groups to travel by coach. Still, there are quite a few things to remember when arranging such an outing. So here are some tips on how to organisea coach trip and ensure all goes smoothly from start to finish.
Take A Headcount
If you’re in charge of organising a coach trip for a club, passenger numbers are the most important thing to know before you start. Without this, you won’t know what size of vehicle to hire. Naturally, you won’t want to hire a coach that’s too large, so that you end up paying for empty seats. On the other hand, you’ll clearly need to have enough seats for everyone to travel in comfort.
You’ll also need to know your budget. Sometimes that’s a fixed amount set by external factors; sometimes it’s determined by how much, and how many, people are willing to chip in to go on the trip. In the latter case, each passenger may value the trip differently, and some will drop out if they feel the price is too high. So when guaging interest, don’t present it as a free trip unless you’re already sure the costs will be covered. Instead, try to get an idea of what your passengers would be happy to pay, and the numbers you might expect at different prices.
Bear in mind, too, that some may drop out for other reasons – possibly even after they have paid for their place. It may help to build a little leeway into your pricing to cover these losses and refunds.
Assessing Passenger Needs
Passengers aren’t just numbers though, so don’t forget to check whether or not any of them have special requirements that you may need to take into consideration. The most obvious of these are accessibility and – for longer trips – dietary and toilet or rest stop requirements. Planning multiple rest stops along the way is especially important for older passengers, who may need to stretch their legs more often. Similarly, for large groups a double-deck coach may seem helpful, but may prove problematic for older passengers.
If your passengers have such special requirements, don’t forget to check that they can be accommodated at your destination(s), too. Notably, older venues may only have limited accessibility features retro-fitted, so it can be worth calling them to check how enjoyable your group will find the experience.
When arranging transport for large groups, never assume the information in a destination’s printed brochure (or even its website) is complete or up-to-date. The last thing you want to do is arrive at your destination to find that it is fully-booked, temporarily closed, or otherwise unable to provide the experience your group was hoping for.
Luggage Limits And Other Onboard Facilities
You should also consider how what luggage your passengers may need to bring with them, and check the luggage limits of the vehicle you’re planning to hire. If those limits are even slightly tight, make sure you let your passengers know what they’re alllowed well before the trip begins. You won’t want to be struggling to load everything onto the coach when you should already be on the road.
Still, larger coaches can offer more than extra leg room and luggage space. Some can offer onboard washrooms and other facilities like individual air conditioning that may make your passengers’ journey more comfortable. So it’s worth checking to see what’s available, as sometimes the offer of a little extra comfort is all it takes to convince more people to attend.
Choosing The Right Coach For Your Trip
Once you have these details you can start to narrow down the vehicle options so you can reserve the most suitable coach for your group. You will definitely need a coach if the total number of passengers is around 50. However, with 16 people or less, you may find it more practical to hire a minibus.
Still, it’s better to have a few spare seats when possible – especially for longer trips where most of the passengers know each other. A little extra space makes the journey more comfortable for most people, even if they never actually leave their seats.
Before you actually hire a coach for your trip, however, you’ll need to plan your itinerary in a bit more detail.
Organising Multiple Pickups, Dropoffs And Other Stops
If you’re planning a tour, you’ll naturally need to figure out your itinerary ahead of time – which stops to make, in which order, and how much time to stay in each location. Still, even if you only have a single destination, you may need to plan timings for multiple stops. In addition to the rest stops already mentioned, it’s common to need to arrange several pickup points and times for passengers, as well as multiple dropoff points on your return. Not all coach hire companies will agree to this though, so make sure you check before booking.
If you’re unsure of any of these details, discuss your plans with your coach operator. Let them know when you need to be at the venue, what pickups, dropoffs and stops you’ll need, and ask for their advice on travel times. They can also work with you to come up with a realistic and suitable schedule.
Once you have an idea of your route, depending on the nature of your trip, it can sometimes be worth checking Google Maps for landmarks that you may pass on the way to your main destination. Even if you aren’t planning to be a tour guide and don’t have time to stop, it can help to at least know the name of whatever castle or other monument your passengers may spot through the windows.
Planning For Delays
You’ll also need to anticipate and allow for delays. Make sure you understand the travel times in detail – and allow extra time for any common traffic delays. It may also help to avoid rush hour traffic, if possible.
Still, expect delays at every stop, too. Make sure everyone knows the pickup times and is committed to not being late, as that could spoil the trip for other passengers. Even so, don’t assume that getting such promises means everyone will be on time – or that pickups and dropoffs will be instantaneous. People of all ages take time to get on and off coaches, select their seats, pack and unpack their luggage. These delays can be even more extended if they are older and/or know the other passengers.
You may even want to ask each person to arrive 15-20 minutes before the departure time just to be safe. If they all do so, it’s generally better to arrive at the next stop early if possible than to hang around just for the sake of sticking to a planned schedule. After all, you never know what delays may occur on the next leg of your journey. Still, your guests should also know what the protocol is if they are late or miss the bus.
Finally, allow plenty of time at your main destination(s) too. It may take your passengers a few minutes to orient themselves on arrival, and no-one likes to be rushed through (or past) places they find interesting. So if you’re attending a timed event, arrive early – and if not, give your guests plenty of time to explore before expecting them to return to the coach.
Hiring Coaches Through A National Firm
Naturally, coach drivers need to be knowledgeable enough to navigate the roads to get you to your destination on time. Still, whilst local firms are familiar with local roads, it often helps to hire through a national firm if you’re travelling far. Drivers working for national coach hire firms are often more likely to be familiar with the roads and traffic further afield, especially around popular tourist and conference destinations.
Still, it’s worth double-checking the details. What standards can you expect from the coach operator, your driver and their training? Have they got good reviews? How well are the vehicles maintained? What procedures are in place for emergencies or if anything goes wrong?
How We Can Help
Booking a coach for your club trip is easy and painless with Cabzilla. We make the process hassle-free and are here to answer any questions you have. Get in touch with us today to reserve your coach and to find out more about our services and how we can help you organise your club trip.
As a leading provider of national minibus and coach hire services, our drivers and staff are friendly and professional and will get you to your destination on time and safely. We can provide vehicles of all sizes and capacities maintained to high standards, so we can easily accommodate any number of guests or type of trip you’re trying to organise.
We offer a wide range of vehicles to suit small or large travelling groups. Our team always offers superior customer service and we are proud to have a trustworthy reputation and a long list of satisfied passengers and clients who we have served.
Ready to start planning your coach trip? Contact us today for your no-obligation, free quote.