Factors to consider when booking a student vs. adult group hotel
By Robert Miller, Esq., Owner of TravelAdvocates
Selecting the perfect hotel for your group depends on many factors: budget, location, amenities, and others. Perhaps the single most important determining factor for choosing the right hotel is the group attendees themselves. Is the group made up mostly of adults or students? The answer to that one question should set you on one of two different hotel-finding paths.
As the 2017 Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA) Annual Conference approaches (Aug. 25–29 in Albuquerque, N.M.), I am reminded that we use different strategies in selecting a hotel suitable for a student group than we do for an adult group. For example, with an adult group, we are typically looking for group-friendly hotels without arduous stairs leading up from the bus drop-off area to the lobby for customers to navigate. Senior adults may not do well on stairs. In contrast, nimble students may be totally fine navigating stairs. This comes in handy, especially in the National Parks where many hotels still have stairs.
Room rate budgets for student groups typically are lower than adult groups. Students are fundraising to travel, so every dollar counts. Where adults usually stay two per room, American students tend to quad up (the Brits don’t like their students sharing a bed, but we’ll leave that for a different article).
Unlike adult groups, student groups usually have strict rules in where their rooms are blocked. Specifically, boys are to be blocked on one floor, girls on another, and all rooms blocked on as few floors (with clear lines of sight) as possible to minimize the number of security guards required. Student-friendly hotels need to have many doubles per floor to minimize the number of floors utilized by the group.
The amenities inside the room are also important to consider. Adults may revel in having a balcony or a stocked minibar in their room. Student tour operators cringe at the inherent safety risks an accessible balcony presents (hotels can often lock the balcony doors to resolve this issue). A minibar stocked with alcohol and expensive snacks will need to be emptied or removed prior to any student checking into that room. Hotels should also be instructed in advance to turn off paid movies and phones within any student rooms. No one wants a big incidentals bill.
What about outside the room? Hotels featuring motel-style exterior corridors usually pose a security hazard for student operators. We don’t want students escaping in the middle of the night! Interior corridor hotels are best for the safety and security of students.
Breakfast at the hotel is usually more important to a student group than an adult group. It is best to find a hotel that can feed every member of your student group at the same time (eating in shifts works for some group itineraries, but not others). If a private meeting room for breakfast isn’t an option, make sure to ask how many people can eat comfortably at the same time in the hotel’s common breakfast area. Whereas adults tend to go down for breakfast at different times, students typically sleep late and descend upon the breakfast area all at once. That’s a lot of cinnamon rolls!
Robert Miller is owner of TravelAdvocates, a group hotel service provider catering to tour operators globally. TravelAdvocates is a Strategic Partner of SYTA and member of ABA. For more information visit www.traveladvocates.com.