Planning a trip for 20 people to London

Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 06:50 PM
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Planning a trip for 20 people to London

Hello,

I would like to plan a trip for 20 people to London in May for an event. The event is being held at the Excel Convention Centre. My question is concerning hotel accomodations and what areas are close to the centre. I have never been to London before so it's a little overwhelming. Any recommendations on hotels, where to stay and how to go about blocking off a section of rooms would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 10:03 PM
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Check out his rather funky interactive map from the Excel website. It shows hotels both onsite and in other areas of London.

www.excel-london.co.uk/hotels-map

You'll need to contact the hotels directly for groups of 20 rather than trying to book online.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 12:08 AM
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I wouldn't stay directly near the excel centre as its got no atmospherev and is quite industrial. Nary to look for hotels near tower gateway or tower hill as they are close to the DLR line that is direct to excel but are in central London by the tower. Check out www.londontown.com for ideas then contact the hotels directly. I believe there is a premier inn that should be reasonably priced there...
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 04:28 AM
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How did you get asked to do this? I am assuming this will be at least 10 rooms (doubles) or more. How are they going to pay the hotel? I am sort of thinking this is a job for a travel agent/tour operator--not just for the amount, but maybe even for the room price negotiations.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 08:59 AM
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I agree - a TA will earn his/her $$/££ money on this one. It is pretty late to be booking a block of 10-ish rooms. Plus if it is a big event, rooms may be hard to find near Excel.

Also- is the event the only reason for the visit? Or will the group be staying over, doing other things in London before/after the event? If so, staying out near Excel wouldn't be my choice.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 09:54 AM
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Janisj,

I actually came to that conclusion so I have decided to not go to London for the convention but plan the trip for later in the year. Is October a good time to visit? I decided to take this on becauseI would like to get into travel planning and I thought this would be a place to start....(maybe it is little ambitous) I saw you post somewhere else about making travel arrangements. Are you a travel planner? If so would you be willing to work with me?
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 09:59 AM
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Gretchen,

I came up with the idea. I plan meetings domestically but I have never done anything international or for a group outside of work... I would like to learn how to plan these types to enhance my skills. Any information or insight would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 11:21 AM
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Well for something like that - if you want other activities besides one event - I would contact the London Tourist Office to hook you up with a planner on the spot. The big issue is payment - because for something like this hotels are not going to take CCs from 10 different couples - but will want a single person to bill and pay and will undoubtedly want an advance deposit.

And the way to learn the skills is to work with one for your first trip - and ask a LOT of questions.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 11:40 AM
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I just got back from a visit with a group to Rome. it was organised by our italian teacher who has organised trips before. Even so we had some problems, the main one being room allocation, which took on some elements of farce: those of us who were supposed to have twins because we were sharing got rooms with double beds, and vice versa.

there was even one glorious moment when the italian hotel receptionist, who didn't think that room allocation was his job, was speaking english to our italian teacher [who both speaks italian and is herself italian]. I don't actually know how she paid for the hotel rooms - I know that she had quite a lot of cash on her as she paid for the airport transfers [4 of them] in cash, ditto the tickets for the Vatican and colosseum.

honestly, this is not something to leave to amateurs.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 12:03 PM
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You plan meetings, yes. But are they travel meetings to a destination you have never been to? I think people go to seminars to learn how to be a travel agent. There is a LOT of liability possible on a trip you take responsibility for. Your clients need to have travel insurance--as well as you do. What are you going to do with them once they are there--and you've never been to this place either. Personally I find that to be total folly, and the learning curve is just too steep.
Have you travelled abroad at all? Can you answer questions your travel clients will have--about customs, about transport from the airport (will you charter a bus?), how to get around the city, tell them to meet in the lobby at such and such for the day's activities, and on and on. Dose of reality.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 12:18 PM
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Hi- just dashing out but basically:

Yes, I do plan itineraries for some other people. But only for couples, a family vacation, maybe 3 or 4 friends traveling together. I don't book things - I work out itineraries, make suggestions for places to stay, explain transport/transfer options. The booking/final decisions are left up to my 'clients'. I would not personally tackle organizing a trip like this (EVER) - essentially 20 strangers (even if they 'know' each other). First of all - way too much fiduciary responsibility.

I have taken groups of friends - as large as 13. But these were always holidays I was also taking and was just another member of the group - not a tour guide (though many of them defer to my choices/recommendations since most are taking the trip because I know the places we're visiting).

IMO If you want to plan things for others - you need to KNOW the areas as well or better than locals. That is where your 'value' would come from. Knowing in's and out's, not just things one can google - but why Wed. is a better day to visit xyz, or why some guidebooks are better than others for certain cities, or why taking a boat one direction is better than the reverse. Sure you can google some things like that, but w/o knowing 'the lay of the land', one may not even know what TO google/worry about.

Just booking flights or hotels in major cities . . . that is a travel agent (sometimes called a dinosaur). IMO a travel 'planner' has to have been there/done that (or at least know what 'that' involves) . . . otherwise a high % of my 'clients' could probably do just as well on their own.

If it was me I wouldn't cut my teeth planning a London trip for 20.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2013, 05:59 PM
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Gretchen and Janisj,

Thank you guys for the dose of reality. I will consult with a planner.
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