Educator Guide 2012 | Tour Planning Time Line

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Tour Planning Time Line

Author - Tom Merrill

Tour Planning Time Line

Tour Planning Time Line

After you have selected a destination, approximate cost, and put together a basic itinerary with your travel company, your trip planning process really begins to move forward. Here is a basic time line of events for planning a student group tour. All of the time frames below are approximate and need to be tailored to your groups overall needs. Some schools use more time to plan, some less.

A good rule of thumb to always follow is the earlier you plan, the more successful and "stress-free" the process. You have a better chance to get what you want when you plan early.

With a large scale trip PLAN EARLY. "Large scale" is a relative term but usually means an international tour, a tour involving air travel or a tour more than 3 or 4 days in length.
 

9 to 12 Months (or more) Before Your Trip


With your school... before contacting a travel company

  1. Get administration approval for the trip. Have travel dates approved.
  2. Talk with your booster organization about fund raising and assistance.
  3. Begin fund raising.


With your travel company... preferably after completing the steps above

  1. Communicate your tour goals and objectives
  2. Design a preliminary itinerary
  3. Determine cost factors and make adjustments to meet the needs of the group.


With your school... after initial development of tour ideas

  1. Present the tour plan and fi nd out interest from your students and parent booster group
  2. Set up a presentation meeting for parents and students
  3. Obtain written confi rmation of their intent and/or a deposit to participate in your trip. (Getting a deposit early often creates a higher commitment level.)


With your travel company... after assessing the viability of the tour plan

  1. Sign a written agreement with the company (pending administration approval).
  2. Set up a payment plan for your trip.
  3. Assemble performance applications if necessary.

8 to 10 Months Before Your Trip


With your school...

  1. Continue fund raising.
  2. Obtain final commitment from students who are going on the trip. Alert the traveling members about all non-refundable payments.
  3. Send out press releases about your upcoming trip to generate interest and maybe a donation.


With your travel company...

  1. Continue developing the details of your itinerary with the company.
  2. Order and pay for any theater tickets, airline tickets, or non-refundable items so that you secure the space. Many attractions, restaurants, airlines, and theaters fill quickly.
  3. Make adjustments for costs or participant numbers as needed.
  4. Select your chaperones.

4 to 8 Months Before Your Trip


With your travel company...

  1. Make sure that you have the itinerary exactly the way you want it. If you have changes, make them as soon as possible.
  2. Send in equipment set-up charts and repertoire for any performances.
  3. Discuss equipment needs for performances and arrangements for equipment rental if applicable.
  4. Send in any airline manifests (if traveling by air).


With your school...

  1. Continue fund raising.
  2. Obtain rooming list from your students (if you let them choose), select meal menu choices, and obtain any special need information from your traveling members that you can.

Tour Planning Time Line

2 to 4 Months Before Your Trip


With your travel company...

  1. Finalize the details of your itinerary (schools attending festivals will not be able to do this in some cases; in some cases festival schedules may not be finalized until a month or less before the tour dates). Make any changes you feel are necessary for your group.
  2. Send in rooming lists, meal selection forms, and any special requests that you might have for your group or members—such as food allergies or special physical need items.


With your school...

  1. Complete fund raising.
  2. Develop your chaperoning plan for your adults.

Six Weeks Before Your Trip


With your travel company...

  1. Send in your final payment.
  2. Go over any final details you might need on your trip.


With your school...

  1. Hold a meeting with all traveling members regarding your trip. Go over the itinerary and policies for traveling with your school. Introduce their chaperones.
  2. Have participants complete all necessary medical and permission forms and behavior agreements (any items required by the school district).
  3. Relax!

Three Weeks Before Your Trip


With your travel company...

  1. Go over any changes in the itinerary (festival participants might have alterations in scheduling at this time).
  2. Ask any last minute questions. Your travel company is there to help you!

The Week of Your Trip


With your travel company...

  1. Ask any last minute questions.
  2. Be in contact with your on-site tour director.


With your school...

  1. Hand out important emergency phone numbers for the traveling members to leave with relatives.
  2. Pass out a final copy of the itinerary to your traveling members for use on the trip (if you so desire).
  3. Pass out baggage tags to your traveling members. It is important to tag all belongings that are traveling with your group.
  4. Have a great trip!

Tour Planning Time Line

Keeping you informed about changes that affect your tour is very important to the success of your tour, and a quality travel company will prepare you for what might be affecting your tour planning. Airlines are making changes constantly and it is important for you to understand how this will affect air travel with your group.

As the airline industry continues to adjust to changing economies and demands please remember the following suggestions to make your air travel experience successful.

Be Prepared for High Air Fares

  • Fuel prices will fluctuate with the economy and oil prices.
  • Seat and flight capacity will be adjusted to match demand to ensure airlines have full aircraft. Basic supply and demand dictates that this means you will be paying more.
  • Reduced capacity also means fewer non-stop flights are available.


Plan Ahead for Extra Costs

  • If you are flying the likelihood of your airline charging an extra fee for something is very high! It could be baggage, check-in fees, security surcharges, fuel, etc.
  • Do not expect the airlines to change their policy for a group. Be prepared and build in extra funds to the trip cost to cover charges. If you don't use the money you can always give it back!


We highly recommend that you do not allow members of your group to use frequent flyer miles. Individuals will ask about this in order to save them some cost.

  • This can become a huge logistical problem for you, your group, parents, and the person requesting to use the miles.
  • With reduced numbers of seats the number of award tickets available will be greatly reduced. It will be very difficult to even get on the same flights as the group.


Consider driving or shipping your extra equipment and instruments to your destination

  • This will save you a huge headache and in most cases a significant cost!
  • There is less chance of instruments being damaged in transit.
  • Some large instruments will not even be accepted by airlines.
  • Consider including your luggage in the truck with the instruments and equipment.

It is highly important to get required information to the airline on time.

  • Airline manifests (names of participants for ticketing)
  • Instrument manifests (number, type and size of instruments in cases)
  • Any other information they request (special need requests, etc.)


Make sure you communicate the reality of airline travel with your entire group.

  • With less seat capacity, fewer seats on a given aircraft will be allocated for group use. This means the larger your group, the more flights on which you will be seated.
  • Depending on your number of participants, your destination and time zones and available flights, you may spend much of the first and last day traveling.
  • Flight delays happen due to mechanical reasons and weather issues. Be prepared to be patient and flexible.
  • Prepare your group for security lines. A photo ID (school or government issued) is usually needed. Make sure they know ahead of time what is acceptable to carry onto the aircraft, and what kind of behavior is unacceptable while going through the security line.


Look to a quality student tour company for guidance and support through your entire tour planning process. The better informed you are about the realities of the air travel experience the better your experience will be. Your group should have an amazing experience!


Tour Planning Time Line


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