Event Venues

Planning a wedding, a milestone birthday, anniversary party, or any other organized group event? Scope out potential locations on a site specializing in helping you find event venues. Eventective is a searchable with Google maps per U.S. city flagged with event locations. Full addresses and basic overview information about each venue is also available.

Do your own digging around the site and find the ideal location for your next group event.


Avoid Common Holiday Headaches

Holidays are just around the corner. Families and friends will gather to spend quality time reconnecting. While the holidays are some of the busiest travel times of the year, there are several prep steps to take to avoid the typical holiday stress.

Here's how to avoid common holiday stressors by planning ahead:

Long lines
Avoid long lines at airports by taking an extra day off of work (on less busy travel days), or traveling when flights are less likely to be full. Be flexible.

Travel expenses
Book early to save on flights and hotels. If you see a sale price for a package deal (hotel + airfare) or hotel, or flight, you should grab it as prices are only likely to increase as the date approaches. Also, consider airports nearby but not exactly where you wanted to go and consider renting a car, taking a train, or a puddle jumper plane to your destination. Sometimes, creative planning can get you there for cheaper. Shop around on discount sites or even use sky miles to help out.

Rides to and from airport
Nothing is worse than standing in the cold outside an airport hoping your ride shows up soon, at that terminal, at that airport, on that day. Coordinate early and use TripHub's Event Schedule to list rides available for people in your group. If Uncle Bob is planning on picking up Aunt Sue at 8:40 PM the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, note this on the Event Schedule of your trip home page so others can hitch a ride if convenient.

Where to stay
If gathering at a relative's house, discuss or share accommodation options together. TripHub has tools to do just that. 1) You can discuss accommodation options within the Trip Blog when you set up a trip home page with your group, or 2) discuss hotels using the custom feature built for making comments within a hotel search results page, or 3) if you have set plans or can open your house up for guests, share your accommodation information with other members of your group.

No peace and quiet
Want to ensure you have a little solo time on your trip, so you aren't inundated with family 24/7? Here are a few tips for getting time to yourself through the joys of iPods, books, exercise, and dogs.

Missed opportunities
To plan ahead on attractions, shows, museums, theater events, golf tee times, and other activities that could be sold out, you can use TripHub's Trip Blog and/or Event Schedule to share ideas and information with people and avoid any confusion.

To plan your holiday group getaway, you can use TripHub to plan where to stay, how to get there, and what to do when you're together. It's an easy, free way to plan ahead and avoid the stress of the happy holiday season.

 


Broadway Group Ticket Tips

Broadway shows entice travelers from around the world. They are a great excuse to escape hot, summer days or chilly, winter nights. And the star-studded casts, Tony Award-winning choreography, and finger-snapping music turn girls getaways, family reunions, bachelor parties, and vacations with friends into more memorable occasions.

Theatre entertainment is no different from the travel industry on defining groups, in that there's no real consistency. Yet when you travel with friends or family, you're a group, no matter your size. With that, I researched several popular Broadway show theatres to get the skinney on what constitutes a group and what your group should know before booking that Manhattan trip.

1. Most theatres for major Broadway shows had a range of minimums for group discounts to apply, and if your group happens to be smaller than 10 (even 8 or 9 people) you likely can't get a group "deal." However, there are many other ways to bargain hunt for shows, you just need to be a little flexible (see #5 below). Here are group minimums for some of The Great White Way's hottest shows:

  • Avenue Q plays at Golden Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 10 tickets
  • Hairspray plays at Neil Simon Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 10 tickets
  • Phantom of the Opera plays at the Majestic Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 10 tickets
  • Rent plays at Nederlander Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 10 tickets
  • Les Miserables plays at Broadhurst Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 12 tickets
  • Chicago plays at Ambassador Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 15 tickets
  • Beauty and the Beast plays at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 15 tickets
  • Mamma Mia plays at Winter Garden Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 15 tickets
  • Spamalot plays at Shubert Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 15 tickets
  • The Lion King plays at Minskoff Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 15 tickets
  • The Color Purple plays at Broadway Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 15 tickets
  • The Producers plays at St James Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 15 tickets
  • Wicked plays at Gershwin Theatre, NYC
    Group minimum: 20 tickets

2. Often, group tickets are available for a more limited time than individual tickets. The closer to the show date, the less likely you are to get group rates. Plan to get a head count and tickets early. A couple months in advance is preferred.

3. Group tickets can be purchased online at the theatre's Web site, or at a consolidator site such as Best of Broadway or via phone.

4. Group discounts vary from show to show and theatre to theatre, but can be sizeable. Beauty and the Beast tickets as listed on Best of Broadway, for instance, are currently discounted $25 - $40 per ticket, depending on the seating section.

5. Last minute individual tickets are also available, but not guaranteed. If you didn't plan ahead to get group discounts or were unable to plan that far in advance (perhaps the head count wasn't finalized until one week prior to the trip) then there are a few options. You can always walk up to a TKTS box office the day of a performance to check on last-minute tickets. Or look at last minute tickets from Broadway.com a few days in advance. And there are other Broadway bargain ticket ideas from About.com.

 


Flight Cancellation Woes

The New York Times recently published an article on the increase in flight cancellations and the impact on travelers. It's a great read, not because the topic is pleasant, but because it gives insight and helps you realize you are not alone. It also makes me wonder why air. You should definitely read the whole article, but the upshot is:

  • Always, always check at least a day before your flight departure to see if your flight has been cancelled.
  • It sounds like airlines occasionally cancel flights if there aren't enough people on the flight, although I doubt any airline would admit to such a tactic. Imagine - letting passengers happily sprawl out on flights and gain a little elbow room. They may even gain a few repeat passengers.
  • Airlines have a high-tech rebooking reservation system that takes into account things like how frequently you fly with their airline, how much you paid for your ticket, etc. so your chances of getting swiftly and efficiently given a good seat are not necessarily even steven.
  • Be persistent if not flexible. Occasionally, open seats on other flights "magically" appear if you're persistent enough, after your flight has been canceled.
  • Flight cancellations are sporadic and unpredictable still. May the force be with you.

 


Cancel, Refund, Change Tips

Budget Travel Online has a list of 10 Tips to Cancellation, Change, and Refund Policies that seem relatively evergreen. I say relatively, because as quickly as airlines can sell a window seat, that's how quickly a policy can change. That aside, these are ten good guidelines to consider before booking trips.

Also, there are links to major airlines' refund policies so you can see what specific airlines offer for refunds currently.

The biggest thing to keep in mind: there is no universal cancellation policy in the travel industry. Each supplier, each airline, each hotel, travel operator (Expedia, etc.) has their own version. Read the fine print on each and never be shy to ask questions.


Luxury Travel Tips

Want five-star service no matter where you travel? Only the best for your destination wedding or family reunion all costs aside? Need to getaway with friends, treating yourselves with lavish luxuries savored for special occasions (or simply required as your standard of living) and can afford to spend? Here are several tips for luxury group travelers:

  1. Escorted luxury tours by Abercrombie & Kent
    Numerous tour operators provide high quality experiences abroad or within the U.S. Arrange a group escorted tour or independent tour where your group has more free time to explore the area on your own, yet still in the lap of luxury. Abercrombie is a leader in luxury group tours.
  2. 10 lavish hotels worth the splurge by A Luxury Travel Blog
    Worldwide luxury hotels and resorts where you can expect the highest service, most beautiful scenery, and a feeling of utter pampering.
  3. Luxurious destination spas by Spafinder
    Pampering at spas is a given, but when you go to destination spas, the minute you step foot onto the property, the entire vacation experience is geared toward your comfort. A slice of heaven on earth.
  4. Charter jets for groups by Flexjet or Blue Star Jets or Artemis Air
    Tired of crowds, lines, and lower quality service of economy flights? Charter a private jet for your group. There are many to choose from and if you split the cost between the group, the price may not be as high as you think. Or you may decide the extra price is worth traveling together with convenient, speedy service.
  5. Outlandishly expensive things to do in New York City by PocketChangeNYC
    A free weekly newsletter features deals to drop your jaw on high pricing in New York. It's "everything you love to hate and hate that you love."
  6. High tech portable sommelier by Vagablond
    This robot sommelier can identify wines and make food pairing recommendations, so say its Japanese manufacturers. Gadget lovers can bring it along on luxury vacation for kicks.

Ready to plan that lavish trip of the century (or month, for those who can afford the frequency) with your pals or extended family?


50 Best American Restaurants

Harvest time is now. Weather is cooling. Leaves are afire with color. And activities turn more indoors, often to creature comforts such as cooking, culinary tours, regular meals with families, and food in general.

Gourmet has published 50 best American restaurants of 2006, with at least 50 percent new to the list. From Honolulu (Alan Wong's Restaurant) to New York City (Masa), and everywhere in between, Gourmet lists their crème de la crème.

For special occasions (birthday parties, bachelorette parties, engagement parties, rehearsal dinners for weddings) and holiday preparation time (shopping, etc.), treat your group, family, and/or friends to a sumptuous meal. You can also treat yourself and call it "research" for new holiday meal or family reunion dish ideas. Expensive though these restaurants are likely to be, sometimes life's worth a little indulgence, especially during the colder months.

You can discuss restaurant and dining options with your group using TripHub's trip discussion blog, and list restaurant reservation info and other trip details on TripHub's event schedule so everyone is on the same page.

Source: Gadling


Holiday Travel Planning Tips

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve are three of the biggest holidays of the year. I received my first holiday party invitation just last week, which reminds me that people are planning early. If you're traveling or hosting a family or friend get together around the holidays, here are some basic tips:

2-3 months in advance (minimum)

  • Research how group reservations work if 10 or more people are traveling together for a holiday.
  • Restaurants book up during the holidays and often stop taking reservations when they've reached reservation capacity. Book reservations for your group now for holiday parties and gatherings.
  • Holiday travel is one of the busiest times for many airlines. Start looking for flight prices and if you find one in your budget, book it now. Depending on your location, you can look into train travel as a transportation alternative.
  • Hotels in major metropolitan areas and beach areas see an uptick in business around the holidays, so book early.
  • Create or determine a budget for yourself (for Christmas gifts especially) and stick to it.
  • If your trip hinges around one big event such as a New Year's event, purchase tickets as early as possible.

1 month in advance

  • If you're hosting guests for big meals such as Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, etc., plan the courses and make food assignments if necessary (desserts, salads, appetizers, wine, etc.) to share the expense and responsibility. Most guests want to contribute.
  • Accommodations for those not staying in hotels or last-minute arrangements for friends/family who weren't able to book in advance. Perhaps you can make arrangements to borrow a neighbor's house while they are away, or book a local B&B that isn't easily discovered on the internet but would make the trip more enjoyable and affordable for some.
  • Plan group activities such as area sightseeing, attraction visits, purchasing admission tickets for events such as art exhibits at museums/galleries or theater shows.
  • Collect money from everyone and track shared expenses.
  • Shop for gifts.

1 week in advance

  • Confirm all flight, accommodation, activity, restaurant and train reservations and/or arrangements.
  • Final gift shopping.
  • Dust off games, borrow games from friends/neighbors, or buy new ones to make time spent with friends and family more enjoyable.

3 days in advance

  • If cooking a big meal, get all foodstuffs and start preparing meals early.
  • Wrap all remaining gifts. Buy a few extra general gifties (calendar, journal, wool socks, gift certificate to Barnes & Noble) in case someone brings a boyfriend or girlfriend home unexpectedly.
  • Clean the house, or if everyone is traveling to a destination, make sure you have a friend or neighbor keeping an eye on your place (collecting mail, watching pets, watering plants, etc.)

Holiday day

  • Relax and enjoy the company of friends and family

Clubs and Teams Travel Guide

You're a member of a church that takes spiritual retreats. Perhaps your tennis or ski team travels for competition. Or your alma mater organizes football tailgate parties for home and away games. You could be a soccer parent planning away games with other parents. Or even belong to a swanky book club that travels to Italy after reading Under the Tuscan Sun. Whatever your lifestyle is, membership organizations (clubs, teams, associations, etc.) are great ways to stay active and pursue interests while meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends or colleagues.

For like-minded individuals who travel together, here are planning resources for organizing your next group trip.

How to Book Group Reservations

How to Pack Properly

Tips for Traveling en Masse

Quick Checklist for Club, Team, or Organization Group Trips

  1. Prepare a budget. How much will it cost? What are the shared expenses? What are deadlines for deposits, etc.? A basic spreadsheet with all big pre-trip shared expenses will help if you're organizing or on a committee for a given trip or retreat.
  2. Collect money for shared expenses such as hotel rooms and transportation. You can track money owed using TripHub's money tracking tool.
  3. Get release forms. If your trip is a school scenario with kids traveling with parents, coaches, and chaperones, you'll need to make sure release forms are signed.
  4. Make dining reservations and arrangements for your group. Depending on group size, some restaurants may or may not be able to accommodate you, so book well in advance (even a couple of months). Groups get cranky when not fed, which makes for a stressful, less fun experience for everyone. Arrange for meals on group trips to people sated and/or energized.
  5. Order custom group t-shirts. Nothing screams "team spirit" like a gaggle of people wearing matching uniforms. Geeky though it may sound to some, it's still unifying. Not only can you easily identify each other in crowds, but you'll have a memento from traveling together. You can even put a logo, photo, or pithy slogan on it.

TripHub allows you to easily plan and coordinate trip details so everyone stays informed about trip plans and itineraries. It's ideal for groups where there are varied interests, budgets, needs, etc. Here's how TripHub can help clubs, teams, and similar groups plan trips:

  1. Determine location and destination for the trip
  2. Create a trip home page
  3. Invite team/club/association members (ski team, church group, school mates, professional organization members)
  4. Discuss trip details with travel companions
  5. Create an event schedule of dinner reservations and other key itinerary details
  6. Shop for flights, hotels, rental cars, activities and attractions (or share travel information if already booked elsewhere so the group knows when people arrive, leave, and where they're staying)
  7. Discuss hotel options

Ski Guide for Groups

Carving around corners, bumping down moguls, breathing in cool mountain air and sweeping views. Ah, the essence of skiing. What a rush. Plus, there's also the company of like-minded ski aficionados. Ski villages offer whatever nightlife you crave, from a quiet family dinner to dance floors for shaking your groove thing with friends.

Sun_valley_group_ski_travelBoarders and skiers put their passion for powder to practice on slopes across North America from mid-November through March (later if snowfall permits). Skiing is an ideal activity for groups, fostering camaraderie and a healthy dose of competition among friends and family. It allows adventure-seekers to vacation together, skiing off on separate runs if desired and meeting up at the lift lines to swap slope stories. At the day’s end, everyone regroups for some après ski activities. Here’s a guide with tips and resources to help you plan your group ski trip with ease.

Planning Ski Trips

  1. Find a mountain and ski resort for your group
  2. Invite friends, family, or team/club members (ski team, church group, school mates, professional organization members)
  3. Discuss trip details with travel companions
  4. Create an event schedule of dinner reservations and other key itinerary details
  5. Shop for flights, hotels, rental cars, activities and attractions and share booking details

Ski Trip Checklist
When planning a group ski trip, there are plenty of factors to keep in mind. Does anyone in the group require child care for their kids? Is anyone interested in taking group ski lessons and how varied are the ski skill levels? Is everyone buying group lift tickets before arriving or while there? Here's a quick list of things to consider before you go:

  • Lift tickets
  • Ski rentals
  • Group discounts
  • Group ski lessons
  • Ski lessons for kids
  • Daycare for kids
  • Restaurant reservations
  • Bulk food assignments made (who's bringing what?)
  • Hotel or rental home reservations
  • Pet-friendly hotel rooms, condos, or houses
  • Extra gear for those who may have forgotten gloves, goggles, hats, wool socks

Top Ski Resorts in North America
Take your pick of ski areas, states, and snow conditions for the upcoming ski season and start planning your ski trip. Since there are simply too many ski areas to list, but here are 10 popular ski resorts for groups for starters (in no particular order):

  1. Vail Ski Resort, Colorado
  2. Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado
  3. Heavenly Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe
  4. Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, British Columbia
  5. Steamboat Ski Resort, Colorado
  6. Mammoth Lakes Ski Resort, California
  7. Killington Ski Resort, Vermont
  8. Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort, Colorado
  9. Park City Ski Resort, Utah
  10. Jackson Hole Ski Resort, Wyoming

Ground Transportation Options
Find out what options are available at the airport and ski resort your group is heading to. If you're on a budget, shuttle services offer group rates. One of the greatest benefits of a group trip is being able to split costs such as transportation to and from venues.

  • Shuttle service – There are usually private services that transfer you from airports to your hotel or ski resort area. Some ski resorts themselves even offer airport transportation to and from their resort. Call ahead so you find the best deal for your group.
  • Private limo
  • Taxi
  • Bus
  • Rent cars, SUVs, vans
  • Hotel/resort transportation service
  • Friend as chauffer – best option if available

Ski-In, Ski-Out Accommodations
Convenient for those who plan to spend most of their trip skiing, you can save gas and glide right outside your hotel door. Hotels, condos, and resorts can all fall into this category. Examples include Snake River Lodge & Spa in Jackson Hole, Sunshine Inn (Banff's only ski-in/ski-out hotel), and The Loft at the Mountain Village 3-bedroom condo in Park City.

Vacation Rental Homes
One of the best ways to enjoy a group ski trip is by renting an entire house. I've done this several times and it's usually been the best option. Do a Google search for your ski area or look at this worldwide directory for ski area vacation homes.

Aprés Ski
TripHub allows you to discuss, plan, and make decisions on group activities with your trip mates all in one central location, saving you the hassle of sending a zillion emails to coordinate.

  • Shopping – Most ski resorts cater to skiers and the fact that you're a relatively captive audience, having traveled through snow-covered roads to the mountain. So there's plenty of shopping variety from apparel boutiques to candy shops to cafés to video rental stores.
  • Sightseeing – Whether driving or flying in for a weekend getaway or vacation with friends or family, ski destinations often have more to offer than just mountain with slopes. There may be historical or art museums/galleries, or nearby attractions such as lakes to explore. Find out what interests your group most and offer suggestions before the trip.
  • Nightlife, Restaurants & Bars – You can always find a variety of restaurants, many of them high-end, to recharge after a day on the slopes. And all major ski resorts (Whistler, Vail, etc.) have nightlife equally as invigorating as the day life (if you're in a party mood). But there are also quaint, charming pubs and restaurants as well as the cheap eateries. If your group is set on a certain type of food or restaurant, book reservations as early as possible to ensure a seat.

Wintry Activities – Numerous ski resorts give snowbirds other ways to play in the snow either before or after they ski (or when taking a day off of the slopes):

  • Ziptrek or ziplines through treetops
  • Heli-skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog sledding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing (most major ski areas have trails for this, including Lake Tahoe, Telluride, Stowe, The Canyons, Sun Valley, and smaller resorts around the continent)
  • Massages at spas

Ski Trivia

  • Ski history includes Swedes and Russians hunting on skis, Norwegians popularizing the sport in the 1700s, the Winter Olympic Games in 1936 including alpine skiing for the first time, and Austria and Switzerland developing the first ski resorts shortly after World War II.
  • Historical ski cartooning – who knew such a thing existed? – includes a look at ski humor from 1500 to the present. My favorite is a cover page cartoon from The New Yorker.
  • The U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame, located in Michigan, was born in 1956.

Best of the Web (Ski Related Links)

Photo: Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau