Know Your Group: Affinity vs Speculative Groups

Written by: Sydney M Crago on August 26, 2019

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Chances are that if you have visited sites like the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower, or Disney World, you’ve seen large groups of travelers vacationing together. Sometimes they are school groups all wearing the same t-shirt; other times they appear to have no connection other than all being on the same trip.

Because group trips are more complex and time-consuming to plan, it’s no surprise that travel agents are often relied on to coordinate them. The world of group travel comes with a lot of questions, and we’ll start with the most basic one: What exactly is group travel?

People And Sunsets

Affinity vs Speculative Groups – How to Define Them

Group travel is defined as a collection of individuals who travel together and are bound by a social event, association, or other common thread. In some cases, that common thread could just be their travel agent! There are two general types of groups: affinity groups and speculative groups. Affinity groups are the most popular form of group travel. These may include family reunions, destination weddings, or class trips. Speculative groups are the other form of group travel in which an agent speculates that they can fill group travel space by booking repeat clients and gaining new clients.

Because group travel may qualify your clients for special rates or amenities, a certain number of travelers must participate to be considered a group. Cruises generally classify a group as eight or more booked cabins, while land trips generally reach the group threshold at ten booked rooms. Keep in mind that while you may be planning a trip for several people, it might not always classify the trip as group travel.

Identifying Affinity Groups

Affinity groups are what most people think of when they hear “group travel.” The travelers in an affinity group have a common bond or purpose for their trip. These groups often have an established leader or someone who steps up to be the primary point person for the trip. The group leader communicates regularly with the travel agent and with the rest of the group. Even if the whole group doesn’t know one another, each traveler is connected to the group some way.

For example, a destination wedding is an affinity group. In this group, the couple getting married act as the group leaders. The travelers share the common bond of being invited to the wedding and communicate with the couple, which in this case may include typical methods as well as invitations and RSVPs.

For a travel agent, affinity groups are more straightforward than speculative groups and are more likely to follow-through with travel.

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Forming Speculative Groups

Speculative groups are sometimes called promotional groups. For this type of group, an agent reserves group travel space and promotes it. The number of travelers or potential travelers is unknown at the beginning. There is not a group leader for these trips, and instead, the travel agent takes on the roles and responsibilities that would normally fall to the group leader.

This type of group is riskier for agents because there is usually less initial commitment from travelers. This creates risk because of the terms of some group travel contracts, which may require a certain number of travelers, deposits upfront, or penalties for not meeting the requirements. Before considering a speculative group, agents should become familiar with the client base, the trips their clients are most interested in, and the policies regarding group space with the potential travel supplier.

Group Team

How can KHM Travel Group help agents with Group Travel?

We understand that many travel agents dive into the world of group travel because it offers the potential to grow their list of travel clients, spread the word about their travel business, increase their travel business’s bottom line, and better serve their loyal clients who want to travel in a group.

KHM Travel Group has a dedicated Group Team to help our agents through the process of working with groups. This team supports our agents as they negotiate group travel contracts, get organized and promote their group, and learn the world of group travel. KHM Travel Agents can find out more about our Group Team by visiting MyTravelAgentPortal.


Are you interested in becoming a travel agent? KHM Travel Group is a leading host agency supporting over 4,000 travel agents across the United States. To learn more, fill out the form to the right or give us a call at 1-888-611-1220.