Brechfa Bunkhouse

Self Catering Accommodation - Brechfa Forest
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Advice for organisers.

I have seen both sides of the coin when it comes to organising weekends away for a large group of friends.  Both involved in the organisation of 'away trips'  with my friends and with running this property.   Drawing on that experience I would make these suggestions.
1.  It can be time consuming getting agreement between friends on the date and place to stay,  and frustrating when you finally get the deposit money together to find that the property is now booked for the weekend you wanted,  so you have to start all over again.
If you are organising a birthday party or other celebration you will already have a date in mind.   Research the properties available for your preferred date,  in an area convenient for your guests and make a selection of 3 or 4 properties,  then ask your friends to rank them in preference along with giving you the money to pay the deposit.   Once you have the money available,  contact the properties in order of preference to make a booking.
2.  Collecting the money.   Most properties are a fixed price for a weekend no matter how large the group.   Work out a realistic minimum number within the group that will come,  and work out the price range between that number and the maximum number the property can sleep.   For Gilfach Wen group sizes over the last year have ranged between 12 and 32.  So the price for a weekend would range between  £850/15 (£57) to £850/32  (£27)
Tell people the price range,  and ask people to pay the price on the minimum number,  with the surplus going towards buying the food and drink for the weekend,   or will shared out back to people.  Its easier to give money back to those who come,  than to ask people for extra money.
3.  How to collect the money.
Maybe you see people on a regular basis and they can pay by cash or cheque.   
 If you talk via email an easy way of gathering money can be to use PayPal.   It provides an option for money transfer between friends which is free of charge. 
Or you can send people a PayPal invoice to their email address.   They do not need to have a PayPal account,  and can pay the invoice via their bank account,  PayPal account or credit card.  You will need to take into account that there is a small charge for this service which is subtracted from the amount paid to your PayPal account,  but it can make it very easy to track who has paid their share,  and generate reminders.
4.  Collecting deposits and balances.
Some booking services require payment in full at time of booking,  others offer the option of paying a deposit at the time of booking and the balance a month before the group arrives.  When planning the finances within the group,  remember that some people may commit to joining and pay the deposit then have to drop out. 
Start to ask people for the balance in plenty of time to gather the money in for when you have to make the payment.  The contract between the property owner and the group is with the group organiser.   Late payments can incur penalties and payment in full may be due if you don't inform the owner of a cancelation by a deadline.
5.  Catering
Many supermarkets offer a delivery service,  or click and collect.  Check with the property owner which supermarkets deliver in that area.
 It is also worth ensuring that the property owner can be there to accept the delivery if you are delayed on the journey.  The drivers are not allowed to leave items if no one is there to sign for them.  If you miss them,  you have to wait for the driver to complete his round and return to the store before you can collect your order from the store.
If you order a delivery to arrive a considerable time after you will arrive,  bring enough with you to get the party started until it arrives.   There is nothing worse than the look on the faces of people arriving to a stag do when you tell them there is nothing to drink other than tea and coffee because the booze will not be delivered for another 4 hours.  -  Yes it has happened here.  
6.  Who pays for what.
Some groups all chip in to a fund which pays for the food and drinks for the weekend,  they then have a formal or informal rota for cooking and washing up.  Others divide the work with each family within the group taking on the responsibility of providing one meal for the whole group.  The BBQ is a popular option as it turns catering from a chore into part of the party.
7. Check what is included.
Do you need to bring toilet rolls,  tea towels,  washing up liquid, rubbish bags?  (The answer for Gilfach Wen is that all are provided.)
8. Book transport in advance.
If some of the group are planning to travel by train and you are staying in a rural property get advice from the property owner if there is a local taxi company.   It is better to plan ahead than to have to ask around who is available to give people a lift when they are rushing for a train.  Yes,  that has happened as well.  
9.  Ensure you ask the friends of friends joining the group for contact details,  so that if there is an emergency you at least have the mobile phone numbers  (and names)  of everyone coming.



Gilfach Wen Barn - outside view of Brechfa Bunkhouse


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