A snowboard holiday with your mates: on paper, a seemingly straightforward thing to organize. In practice, it’s often up there in the simplicity stakes with finding a needle in a haystack that’s been strapped to the back of some cats that you’re attempting to herd towards a piss-up in a brewery.
The folk you’ve chosen to associate yourself with – be it through work, school, friendship or blood – are soon replaced, Invasion Of The Body-Snatchers style, with gibbering idiots that display all the reliability of a 2003 Renault Espace.
"There are steps you can take to minimise the faff; here's what we recommend"
That said, We’re not suggesting that it’s not worth the bother – just think of it like childbirth. It may be noisy and messy, and things may be said/thrown at those you love in the heat of the moment, but when all’s said and done you’ll be glad you persevered, and you’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.
As with all things in life, there are steps you can take to minimise the faff; here's what we recommend:
1) Commit To A Date Early
More than anything, this will be the hardest thing to pin down, so don’t waste any time in floating potential dates for the trip to the group. There’ll be plenty of time afterwards to argue about where you’re going to go, so that can wait.
If there’s only a handful of you, this shouldn’t be too hard – but as the numbers increase, so does the complexity.
The Doodle planner can be useful for this – if everyone marks off the days they definitely can’t do, then the likely options will soon present themselves.
"Avoid email chains if you can – the first time someone hits ‘Reply’ instead of ‘Reply ALL’ then the whole thing is potentially fucked"
2) Communication Is Key
Everyone who’s going needs to be in the loop from the start. As soon as people start hearing details second hand, you're asking for trouble.
Avoid email chains if you can – the first time someone hits ‘Reply’ instead of ‘Reply ALL’ then the whole thing is potentially fucked. A group messaging app like Whatsapp is best, and ensures that the whole history of the conversation is in one place. It also ensures that anyone who’s slack at replying is identified early, and shamed accordingly.
Try and keep it to the essentials, though. If you need to track back to find a crucial booking reference number, the last thing you want to do is scroll through endless waffle about snow forecasts, tricks that’ll never get landed, and how great it is that Colin from accounts isn't coming.
Yes, we’re all excited – but take it somewhere else.
3) Assign A Leader
Representative democracy – it might not be perfect, but sometimes nothing else will do. Rather than having everyone book their own flights and accommodation, pick one person to handle the big stuff for the group.
"They’ve probably already got a nickname along the lines of Captain Sensible, the OrganisoTron 3000, or The Spreadsheet Whisperer"
Avoid going for who might seem most like a ‘natural leader’; you’re not storming the beaches at Normandy. Look past the most enthusiastic, charismatic person in the group (who may well be poised to unleash their inner Führer), and pick the one with the best organisational skills.
Figuring out who that is won’t be hard; they’ve probably already got a nickname along the lines of Captain Sensible, the OrganisoTron 3000, or The Spreadsheet Whisperer.
They’ll probably grumble about having to shoulder the extra responsibility, but you all know that they’re secretly happier to do it themselves than leave it in the hands of someone that doesn’t even have their own set of different-coloured highlighters.
4) Go With The Majority
Of course, it isn't the organiser's job to decide the details of the trip - just to ensure that it goes ahead. Where you go, and how you spend your time once you're there, is up to you.
The bigger the group gets, the less likely it is that everyone will agree. Differences of opinion usually appear when discussing accommodation: splurge on a fully catered chalet, or cram into a sardine-tin apartment to save more cash for the bar?
When that happens, the best thing to do is to narrow down the choices and put it to a vote. Make sure everyone gets the chance to be heard, but at the end of the day it's about pleasing the most people you can.
"In a group situation, you can expect to please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time - but not both"
5) Look For Group Deals
Travel companies love it when a large group comes looking for a deal, so be sure to do the rounds.
Don’t leave it all up to the organiser, though. Get a list together, then divide and conquer. If you make it clear to the operator that you’re on the hunt for the best deal, they’re likely to do all they can to get your business.
Sometimes they’ll offer a free place for every five or six people on the trip. If the trip is in honour of somone’s birthday, the freebie can go to them, or if not it could go to the organizer. Another option is to split the saving among everyone, resulting in a nice little discount.
6) Manage Your Money
The organiser will do most of the money-handling, but it’s up to everyone to ensure things go smoothly.
Apps like Tilt allow you to manage a group payment, and ensure the record of who has paid what is easily tracked. If things go wrong at this stage, they can go very wrong indeed, so don’t drop the ball.
Also, no-one likes chasing people for payment, so cough up when asked. And NEVER be the one who's massively up for it, then declares at the 11th hour that they can't afford it. If it's looking doubtful, make that clear from the start.
Once you get there, it might be a good idea to pool your money in a kitty, especially if you're likely to spend similar amounts on food and booze. At the same time, don't force this on the group if it doesn't look like it'll work out fair.
"Ensure that everyone knows what they’re getting for their cash, and what they’re still required to sort out themselves"
7) Clarify What’s Included AND What’s Not
When it comes to flights, accommodation and transfers, having one person book the lot is the easiest way to do it. For everything else, such as lift-passes, equipment hire and insurance, it’s best if individuals take care of their own requirements.
Whatever you do, ensure that everyone knows what they’re getting for their cash, and what they’re still required to sort out themselves.
Remember: the trip organiser is not your Mum/Dad.
8) Don't Take More Luggage Than You Need
You're about to spend a collective fortune on flights and carriage, so do what you can to avoid forking out more than you need to. The easiest way to do this is to only take one board bag beween two.
Any flatmates or couples going should be able to sort this out fairly easily, but it's a little harder for those that live separately. We recommend that you get everything packed up at least a few days before you're due to fly.
If it's looking like you'll need an extra bag or two, it's better to know this before the morning of the flight - and it usually costs less to add extra bags at this stage rather than at the airport.
It should go without saying that the more efficiently you pack your stuff, the better. Get some great tips on how to pack your snowboard bag here.
9) Stay Positive
So the group didn’t decide to go to the resort you suggested. So they opted for the cheaper place that’s a little further down the mountain. So they chose half board rather than self-catering. So two of the group got leathered and made a bit of a racket at 3am while attempting to find their bunks in the dark. So... what?
In a group situation, you can expect to please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time - but not both. If things don’t quite go your way, then for the love of God, don’t say ‘I told you so’.
It may sound corny, but having the right attitude cannot be overstated. It’s never going to go 100% smoothly – unless, perhaps, you're attending the British Risk Assessment Forum’s annual getaway – so take your cue from the Python boys and make the best of it.