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Automating Groups to Make More Money in Less Time as a Travel Agent

Automating Groups to Make More Money in Less Time as a Travel Agent

Get Groupin’


Written By: Chad Burt, Co-Owner – OutsideAgents.com


What travel agent doesn’t love landing a big group? Groups are great money makers! Working with groups, however, an agent faces many challenges:

  • Relying on a group leader to get the correct information out to everyone in the group
  • Miscommunication and “he said/she said” about group details
  • Maximizing $$ TC’s $$
  • Managing, collecting, and securing multiple payments on multiple payment dates
  • Reminding everyone of their upcoming payments, insurance deadlines, and more
  • Generating additional revenue by promoting insurance, pre and post options, and more
  • Keeping client information safe, secure, organized, and readily available.
  • Promoting and marketing the group for additional revenue


Groups are also giant time sucks, at least some help from workflows and automation. That’s why we created this 13-page fully editable e-book and group planner. We made it available to the entire travel industry because it’s incredibly important that we get it right, even with our first group. While the definitive “book” on groups in travel is available right here on this site, our e-book tool boils down what we learned to an editable form. It was built by the experts at OutsideAgents.com based on the company’s 30+ years of real-world group experience spanning hundreds of thousands of room and cabin nights! It goes over each aspect of the group trip in detail, so agents have a chance to get their first group right. Nothing is worse for our industry than agents trying to run groups “from the hip” because so many people know about it if anything goes wrong. So, we wanted to do something to help. Combined with solid group training from vendors and hosts, like our award-winning group courses and tools, and strong support and one-on-one mentoring from their hosts, nearly any agent should be able to handle a group. Or, two. As you become successful, though, and start to scale, problems compound and all the sudden, you can’t sleep at night.


Automation! You need automations that support a well-defined workflow to propel you as far as you want to go with groups. The main things automation should help (not replace) you with include: Promotion, Communication, and Registrations including payments. Specifically, your automations should:

  • Help you sleep at night knowing the details are covered!
  • Help with promotion by creating a website or microsite for the group with all the details clients need to get excited about it, share it, and buy it.
  • Your groups site needs to be a standalone communication hub filled with information and updates that you link to from emails, other sites, and social media, and that clients can come back to again and again.

  • Your automations must automate at least some of your transactional activities like registrations and payments. Eliminate getting on the phone to write down 16 digits and read them back (who does that anymore?). Automation will help avoid misspelled names and miscommunications, and get you ahead of transactional communications like sending out payment reminders, collecting signatures and waivers, and all the other menial tasks that suck the life out of your day.


When you overcome these times sucks through automation, you’re free to do what you do best: Wow your client, pay extra attention to little details, and deliver value on their vacation experience that far exceeds the expectations of your client. Oh, and you’ll be able to sleep at night 😊


The bottom line here is that you need to use automation. It will slash the time it takes to explain the trip, help to promote the group effectively and clearly, collect client and payment information efficiently, reduce the risk for loss, and streamline many more manual group tasks. This allows agents to spend less time on grunt work and more time doing things to impress clients and build business. What more could you want?


Many tools exist to help you with this. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Trello, Basecamp, and our e-book and group planner for organizing information
  • Hey.com and Facebook Groups for communication
  • Jotform and Airtable for collecting information other than credit card information
  • TravelJoy and Travefy for content and group management
  • My Booking Genie from OutsideAgents.com as a one-stop solution

Trello and Basecamp



Low cost (around $10-$29/month)

Not purpose built by travel experts

Their familiar to some clients

Almost no fraud protection features

Rock solid data storage

Not PCI compliant & culls PCI related info

Great for “To Do” lists and reminders

Lots of work to set up templates

Relatively easy to learn

Need to create your own workflows


Trello and Basecamp allow you to gather and organize information, and then share it with the people you choose to share it with. You could use our guide to groups to create cards in Trello or lists in Basecamp for each step in your group workflow and then save it as a template so you can use it over and over again.


Hey.com and Facebook Groups



Fast and easy

Not purpose built by travel experts

Their familiar to most clients

Danger of flaming/social crusading

Rock solid data storage

Not PCI compliant & culls PCI related info

Great for events and updates

Almost no custom templates

Low cost or even free

Can become a time suck


Both are amazing tools but, like with everything technology related, there are pros and cons. So, we made some charts to help show you some things to consider as you look at each of your automation options.


Hey.com allows your clients to sign up to a list and then get a copy of everything you email to a special address. Like a Facebook Group, it’s a great way to get information out quickly and with very little effort. Unlike a Facebook Group, it’s a one-way communication stream as you can see in this example that offers limited branding. Facebook Groups, on the other hand, allows for deeper client engagement but with a greater time cost. Facebook Groups really shines with the ability to post images, documents, and information in a central location, which is a huge help overcoming NTMS (Nobody Told Me Syndrome) that some clients are notorious for. Plus, it’s fun! It’s exciting to see the group grow, connect, and bond. That’s what groups are about, after all. People love it. Of course, there are pros and cons to this solution as well, so check out our hand little chart above.


Jotform and Airtable



Low cost (around $15-30/month)

Not purpose built by travel experts

Easy to learn the basics

Anything past “the basics” can be challenging

Limited only by your imagination

Not PCI compliant & culls PCI related info

Great support community

Steep learning curve to build workflows

Great integrations to external apps

Too many options and choices!


Jotform and Airtable are both, essentially, database programs which allow you to create forms, gather information, and organize it all. Jotform is, as you might guess, all about forms and it does a great job with them. Airtable goes a step further by offering an unlimited number of tools to build any custom database or interface you can dream of! Then, you can slice, dice, and use that data in an unlimited number of views and layouts. Airtable is a powerhouse that you should look at but, a word of caution: It’s a rabbit hole for the technically inclined but it’s definitely not for those that fear the tech monster.


TravelJoy and Travefy



Great content and processes

Somewhat expensive at $35+/month each

Easy to learn

Robust feature set is distracting

Limited only by your imagination

Doesn’t collect cvv or other data for PCI

Great support community

Adds additional layers to your tech stack

Pretty good at push communications

Too many options and choices! Rabbit hole!


Though they lack specific group functionality, TravelJoy and Travefy really shine as they take different approaches to client communications that are very beneficial. For example, TravelJoy is a great CRM focused on moving clients through the sales cycle. Travefy is a content and branding dream, allowing you to create gorgeous itineraries and other communications with live data. It even can be branded as you so your clients can check their trip and communicate with you while they’re traveling. Both, though, are their own ecosystems which means they will create a 2nd and 3rd layer to your already strained workflow, and they don’t integrate well with many popular platforms. They are very “cool,” in their own right, and are definitely worth a peek if you don’t already have a CRM in place. You just need to figure out how to bolt them into your increasingly complicated workflow. Oh, and make sure you get their integrations set up correctly or you’re going to have a bad day…lol.


My Booking Genie (MBG) from OutsideAgents.com solves ALL the problems listed previously and more. Using patent pending technology, you can create micro-sites, landing pages, and registration forms to promote and manage cruise and land groups effectively and efficiently with OutsideAgents.com.


These sites contain all the information the client needs, including pictures, your branding, client pics and call outs (they love that stuff), up to the minute updates, supplementary products and options, travel itinerary options and details, accommodation details, payment information, legal disclaimers, and more. The micro-sites also allow the client to actually register for the trip and securely send payment information, identification, and legally binding electronic consents, authorizations, and acknowledgments freeing up huge amounts of your time for more important things. To top it off, using our proprietary Fraud Prevention Program, the system sends out payment reminders on dates set by the agent and allows the client to securely authorize the charges with signatures and acknowledgements, all without the agent – you – raising a finger. It does all this while saving you 50+% on your time investment AND reducing your fraud and dispute risk by nearly 65%!


My Booking Genie & MAGcrm



Great content that easy to use

15-30 minute setup time per group

Saves 50% of the time spent on a group

No mobile app, yet

Custom built by agents for agents

Learning curve for creating good templates

Outstanding communication incl upsells

No link to live inventory, yet

Integrated Fraud Protection

Chance for explosive group growth

Eliminates “he said / she said” problems

You’re responsible for accurate info

Credit card authorizations w/ signatures


My Booking Genie micro-sites also feature social network integration which enable clients to promote the agent’s brand, image, and even the group itself, at no additional cost to you. Think about the opportunities like:

  • Your church group shares your MBG site to their Facebook, effectively promoting it to the congregation!
  • A member of a family reunion group posts your MBG to IG and now family members they haven’t seen in years want to go so you pick up a few cabins for exactly no addition time or money cost!
  • Do you want your group to grow from 10 cabins to 108? Do like one of our agents did and post your MBG site to an alumni page. You’ll be amazed at the new business you create with very little effort.
  • Even if you didn’t get a single extra booking, consider the hundreds, if not thousands, of additional potential clients that would see your name, brand, value proposition, and what a great job you do. In fact, we can prove it. Right now, we have MBG micro sites being seen by thousands of people at no additional cost to our agent. Pretty cool!


The bottom line here is that you can slash the time it takes to explain the trip, promote the group automatically, collect payments efficiently, reduce the risk for loss, and streamline many more manual group tasks, all while increasing your WOW factor, promoting your group for free in your sleep, and reallocate your time to more important things than writing down 16 digit numbers over the phone. You’ll spend less time on grunt work and more time doing things to impress clients and build business. Seriously, short of an expert employee doing it all for you, what more could you want?


At the end of the day, groups are groups. Sure, they can be extremely profitable, but they can be hard to manage and challenging to promote. The risk of a boo-boo is huge, though, and the consequences are vast as social media let’s everyone know what happened. Using our e-book guide to groups is a great start. Using strong support from your host is a big help, too. Working in combination with My Booking Genie and dedicated mentor support, is priceless! Stay with your current host and run one group though us to prove to yourself that, with automation, you will boost profits, reduce hassle and stress, save time and money, ensure a great experience for clients, and generate future business like crazy as word spreads about your expertise and the worry-free, boo-boo-free experiences you create.