Group trip late cancellation etiquette
March 9, 2017 5:16 AM   Subscribe

I've organised a trip for a group of people this weekend which has already been paid for. I've got at least 3 late withdrawals and I'm tempted to offer those places to others for free considering the late notice - is this OK?

The trip involves return train tickets, 2 nights' accommodation and tickets for a fun event which is the purpose of the trip. All of that has already been paid for by the participants so I'm not going to be out of pocket either way. Three of the people supposed to be coming were colleagues. One of them has fallen sick and now isn't able to come and the other two have now decided not to come either because their social link was through the sick person. I've said to both of them that I'd like for them to still come, they'd still be very welcome etc. but they've both decided not to. Fair enough.

My temptation now is to send a group message to a bunch of friends asking if anyone can and would like to take their place. It's the sort of event which will be much more fun with a larger group of people. However, it's very last minute and will either involve my friends needing to take time off work or organise their own travel to come back on Sunday (my train tickets are for Monday) so I think if I offer it as for free people will be more likely to come. Is that OK? Or is my social responsibility here to only offer the places to people who can pay the full amount to reimburse the withdrawers? (The total cost will be around £300 if that's important.)
posted by neilb449 to Society & Culture (7 answers total)
I would offer the tickets to friends and let them know the situation and cost. If the cost is too high for them ask what they can pay. Split the money you are able to get for the tickets between those that could not make it. Unless those not going are cool with you giving away the tickets.
posted by tman99 at 5:27 AM on March 9

The people who cancelled attendance paid - the tickets belong to them, even though you may be holding them at the moment. In those circumstances, I'd be annoyed if you unilaterally gave my tickets away.

What I would do in your place is check first with the absentees, and ask them what they would accept: sell on only at full price, sell on for a reduced price, give away or do nothing. Their money, their tickets, their choice.
posted by Azara at 5:52 AM on March 9 [36 favorites]

I don't think you necessarily have to only offer it to people who can pay the full amount, but I would also feel quite uncomfortable with offering the tickets for free when someone else had already paid for them. Those tickets belong to the people who paid for them, not to you, even if you happen to still have them in your possession.

Send an email to the people who backed out suggesting you'll see if you can find people who are willing to join in. "Hey guys, since you aren't joining us this weekend, I can try to find someone else to take up those tickets if you're okay with that. At this late date, I probably won't get anyone who is willing to pay the full cost, but maybe I can recover at least some of what you spent. What do you think?"

If you really want to offer them for free, I think you still need to ask permission. "Hey guys, since you're not able to use your tickets, I was thinking of offering them around to see if anyone can join us last minute. I doubt I'll get anyone willing to pay for them at such a late date, but I might at least be able to find someone who will use them and I'd hate to see them go to waste. What do you think?"
posted by jacquilynne at 5:55 AM on March 9 [9 favorites]

Exactly what Azara said; find out what the ticket holders want; caution them that if they only want full price they might get nothing.

When asking about reduced price, I'd say offer two options; 50% or for them to be ok with whatever you can get (given that you're doing all the work, you don't need to make things worth by being the middle person for some haggling).
posted by nobeagle at 7:33 AM on March 9

Nthing the advice above to ask those who have backed out.

We once had concert tickets where friends had paid their share but backed out last minute. We asked them what would be acceptable; if we offered them to other friends at a 50% discount (as it was very last minute and the money involved was a few hundred dollars) or if we should try to sell them at the venue (a common practice at this venue) where they might get some money or they might get zero. At that point it was their decision and we were off the hook feeling bad that they would lose money. We followed their request and in the end they got some money back.
posted by vignettist at 8:00 AM on March 9

I think if you organized it and the understanding is that the people who are no longer coming are out of pocket, then it is not your job to find out what they want to have happen to their places and organize that for them as well. If anyone mentioned wanting to pass the tickets on specifically then I see no problem with honoring that, but if you ask them what they want you to do with their tickets, you are asking for a load of burden to fall on your shoulders with organizing all THAT, organizing paid money and haggling full price or 50% or whatever rates (what did someone actually suggest that), being in contact with people you don't know, and so on.

I might say to them that if they are certain they are not coming, their places will be given away to make up numbers and they will not be reimbursed.
posted by Polychrome at 9:06 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]

I asked and all of the withdrawers said they're not expecting any money back and would be happy to get anything so I've sent on a message offering the places up for £100 but said if anyone wants to come but couldn't afford £100 that would be fine too. No takers yet unfortunately...

Thanks everyone!
posted by neilb449 at 12:24 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]

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