Whether you’re an individual looking for your next group travel adventure or a travel manager booking a company retreat, the intricacies involved in booking and organizing group travel can feel daunting.
With so many people involved, how do you make sure that everyone’s needs are accounted for? How can you be sure that everyone’s submitted their information correctly? How can you make sure that the trip goes ahead with as few bumps in the road as possible?
Luckily, many group travel companies specialize in organizing group travel and help to eliminate the stresses involved in organizing a trip for multiple people — especially first-time group travelers.
Whether you’re traveling to New Zealand, South America, or Morocco, we’ve put together this guide for individual travelers and businesses looking to book their next group trip or retreat. We cover:
- The common challenges involved in booking group travel
- What services group tour companies offer
- A review of 10 of the best small group travel companies
What are the common challenges involved in booking trips for large groups of people?
For individual travelers and businesses alike, there are certain challenges when it comes to choosing the best group tours, booking group travel, and organizing travel insurance.
Gathering all of the necessary group travel information
For travel managers especially, gathering business traveler information can be a huge challenge — especially when you don’t have a centralized platform to store and modify their information.
From recording names, birth dates, passport numbers, and dietary requirements to preferred seat type, loyalty program affiliation, and emergency contact numbers, manual methods just won’t cut it. A travel management solution that allows travelers to enter their own information, and enables travel managers to access it is vital when it comes to booking group travel.
Multiple moving parts are difficult to manage
As well as managing multiple people, travel managers also need to keep an eye on the best airline fares and accommodation deals. Maybe you found a great deal on group airline tickets, but one person can’t fly that day which means you need to revisit the travel itinerary from scratch.
People often have different plans
Group travel can often be tricky when different people want to do and see different things. Plus, when groups travel for business, they’ll also likely have meetings and conferences at different times. Sometimes, travel itineraries can be rigid and not allow for much deviation which can lead to disappointment for some travelers.
What are group travel companies and what services do they typically offer?
Group travel companies curate trips, adventures, and itineraries, and manage the booking of transport options, accommodation on behalf of a group.
Many group travel companies have their niche. While some cater to certain age ranges (18-35 groups and “senior” groups), others cater to the type of trip, for example, overseas adventure travel, cycling vacations, and mountain trekking.
Via their group travel websites, group travel companies will:
Design travel itineraries according to client needs
One of the key benefits of using group travel companies is that everything is taken care of on behalf of the traveler. Whether you’re traveling throughout North America, Asia, or Antarctica, every detail can be taken care of.
Group travel companies take care of finding and booking accommodation (they often have established relationships with hotels and other accommodation types and have access to negotiated deals), arranging all necessary transportation, booking restaurants or hotel-provided meals, and organizing activities.
While some group travel companies have set trip itineraries that travelers can choose from, many also offer travelers the option of customizing their trip to their own wants and needs.
Provide accessible assistance for travelers
Many group travel companies will also provide support for travelers while they’re on vacation and find themselves in need of emergency assistance. Many group travel itineraries will also have a group leader who is in charge of the welfare of all travelers in the event of an accident or emergency.
Offer locally based guides
Some group travel companies offer locally-based guides who are either from the area or currently live in the area. This means that travelers get the most authentic experiences from locals who know the area like the back of their hands.
10 of the best group travel companies
The best tour company for you will depend on your budget, the travel style you’re interested in, or your business’s needs. Luckily, there is a wide range of group travel companies that offer different group-booking services for every type of traveler’s needs.
Here’s our pick of the top ten group travel companies for your next great trip.
1. G Adventures
G Adventures is a group travel company established in 1990 with a vision of combining backpacking and mainstream travel and connecting travelers with local people in the countries they visit.
As the “world’s largest small-group adventure travel company” headquartered in Toronto, Canada, G Adventures offers more than 750 tours in 100 countries, including a wide selection of small-group tours, safaris, and expeditions.
The company’s commitment to supporting global community development projects means that 90% of G Adventures travelers will visit a social enterprise project on their tour.
G Adventures’ main offerings include:
- Unique and off-the-beaten-path travel experiences
- Hiking, cycling, rail, and marine tours
- Tours focused on wellness
- 18-to-thirty-somethings tours
- Solo traveler-friendly group trips
2. Intrepid Travel
Founded in 1989, Intrepid Travel is a group adventure travel company that offers over 1000 escorted adventure tours in over 100 countries, with an average of 10 travelers per tour.
Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, Intrepid Travel’s itineraries are designed so that travelers spend as much time as possible doing local things with local people. As a B Corporation, the company is committed to responsible travel and is certified to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance.
The company offers several tour “styles” to suit every traveler’s needs and budget (Premium, Comfort, Original, and Basix), and tours are managed by local tour guides.
Intrepid Travel’s main offerings include:
- 18-29s tours
- Active adventures (hiking, biking, kayaking, etc)
- Adventure cruising (travel by boat)
- Family tours
- Wildlife and polar tours
- Women’s expeditions (all-female tours)
- Urban Adventures day tours
TravelPerk is a corporate travel management company and platform that also provides a group travel solution for company retreats, team-building events, incentive travel, corporate meetings, and conferences.
The solution provides expert end-to-end service for booking and managing group business travel. From within one platform, users can book hotels and flights, manage check-in, car rentals, and even make restaurant bookings.
TravelPerk also offers several unique services such as a VAT recovery solution and a carbon offsetting program.
TravelPerk’s main offerings include:
If you want to learn more about how TravelPerk can streamline group business travel for your company, reach out today for a free demo.
4. Exodus Travels
With 45 years of experience, Exodus Travels is longer in the tooth than many group travel companies. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, the company offers over 500 different itineraries in more than 90 countries and is committed to supporting the communities they visit and protecting the environments they travel to.
Many of Exodus Travels’ team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, and diving and ski specialists to give travelers the best and most informed trips. The company was also the overall winner of National Geographic’s Best Tour Operator Award in 2021.
Exodus Travel’s main offerings include:
- Trips for those in their 30s-40s, families, and self-guided tours
- Mixed activity trips
- Small ship cruises
- Desert treks, coastal walks, and wildlife walks
- Private group adventures
5. MT Sobek
MT Sobek, also known as Mountain Travel Sobek, began in 1969 with an Everest Base Camp trek. With over 50 years of experience, the company offers small group itineraries (with group sizes usually fewer than 10 people) led by local guides.
With headquarters in California, MT Sobek is committed to conservation efforts and supports many organizations such as the Galapagos Conservancy, Alaska Conservation Foundation, and The Fund for the Tiger.
MT Sobek’s main offerings include:
- Search based on activity/fitness level
- Hiking, trekking, rafting, and kayaking activities
- Family adventures
- Adventure cruising and camping
- Search by accommodation, including luxury hotels, safari camps and lodges, and rustic lodging
- Private and customized travel tours
Contiki is a small group travel company exclusively for 18-35-year-olds with a commitment to sustainable travel and aims to be carbon neutral in 2022. Headquartered in California, the company offers 350 trips across 75 countries and six continents, with trips ranging from under one week to four weeks.
Contiki’s trips combine a mix of sightseeing, free time, culture, socializing, and adventure, and also owns several accommodation properties across Europe.
Contiki’s main offerings include:
- Skiing and snowboarding tours
- Short trips and festivals
- Island hopping tours, road trips, and bus tours
- Pride trips
- 24/7 customer support
7. For the Love of Travel (FTLO)
For the Love of Travel (FTLO) is a group travel company aimed at ages 25-39. The company asks travelers to fill out a travel profile so that they can curate the best tour itineraries possible and match similar travelers on the same trips.
With headquarters in Los Angeles, FTLO takes care of all of the logistics needed to create a group travel trip. The company claims to offer trips that “aren’t luxury, but aren’t budget either”, giving travelers a great middle-ground for their group adventures.
FTLO’s main offerings include:
- Weekend trips
- International trips
- A commitment to being a climate-neutral brand, supporting local economies, and only working with vendors that align with their values
Globus, based in Colorado, is a small group travel company that specializes in group tours of around 20-24 travelers. For over 90 years, the company has planned getaways for a wide range of travelers on different budgets.
Globus boasts a global network of premier travel partners, operations experts, and hospitality pros to curate smaller group trips, and also offers a personalized planning option.
Globus’s main offerings include:
- Low season travel tour deals
- “Choice touring”, a selection of curated experiences in off-the-beaten-path destinations
- Private group adventures
- Faith-based travel itineraries
9. EF Go Ahead Tours
EF Go Ahead Tours are perfect for travelers who are keen to learn while on their travels. EF is the world’s largest private education company, with Go Ahead Tours as its sister travel company, and uses the former’s partnerships with educators, guides, and tour operators to give travelers deeper insights into the places they’re visiting.
The company offers more than 175 guided and educational trips across all seven continents and a wide range of destinations and trip types.
EF Go Ahead Tours’ main offerings include:
- Multi-country tours
- Food and wine, history, and family tours
- Seasonal and special event tours (including Oktoberfest, Christmas market tours, and summer tours)
- Safari and wildlife, battlefield, and national park tours
- Private and customized group tours
10. Classic Journeys
Classic Journeys, based in California, offers small-group walking adventures and itineraries across 50 countries and six continents. The company provides local guides so that travelers can enjoy cultural hosts who truly understand local life.
As well as “invisible check-ins” where check-ins are arranged in advance, bags are taken directly to rooms, and bellmen are tipped in advance, Classic Journeys also arranges private access events such as private visits to Stonehenge.
Classic Journeys’ main offerings include:
- A loyalty program offering discounts and priority room assignments
- Groups and corporate luxury tours
- Couples and friends tours
- Limited edition vacations such as visiting Japan’s cherry blossoms or viewing a solar eclipse
- A variety of walking, food and wine, multisport, and heritage and ancestry tours