Band Travel: How to Pack in the Fun without the Stress
There are many tour operators that offer student travel, but you don’t always get the experience you expect. Use the following band director information to help make an informed decision that will give you a positive, memorable and exciting tour for your group.
REPUTATION Check to see how long the operator has been in business.
Many groups choose to travel with startups or companies that are new to the industry because they are the most inexpensive. Many of those companies go out of business before the actual trip, taking the group’s payments with them.
Even if the trip does happen, it is frequently filled with errors and mistakes that create a negative experience. A solid track record of experience is important. Check with national organizations like the Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) to see if the tour operator is a member in good standing. This organization is the national voice for student travel and membership requirements are strict.
COST You get what you pay for! When comparing costs from multiple operators, make sure that you are comparing equal trips.
There are many ways to hide costs and skew the trip quote, so you want to ask several questions before
- Are bus driver rooms and gratuities included?
- Is the hotel quality the same on all proposals (you don’t want to end up in a “budget” hotel)?
- Do you get a full-time guide with you throughout the tour, or are you just given an emergency number to call?
- If you are flying, are all taxes and surcharges included? If you think you have a very low airfare, chances are these charges are NOT included.
- Are meals included at restaurants, or are you given an “allowance” for meals?
- When evaluating tours, you must be sure you are comparing similar proposals. The cheapest trip will generally not be the best experience.
GUIDES Make sure that whichever company you’re evaluating uses knowledgeable, local guides.
The guide should be a local or at least a long-term resident, know the local language, have travel experience and have a background check done by the tour company. Guides can make or break your trip. They are going to explain everything and keep the tour on schedule. Always ask student travel companies about the guides when you consider a trip.
SAFETY Make sure the company follows all the proper safety requirements and is accredited by the local government, the government where they are based and any other appropriate trade organizations.
PERFORMANCES Check to make sure that the performances that are recommended are high-quality opportunities and not just a performance for no audience.
There are never any guarantees for large, enthusiastic audiences, but you will be able to tell if there is a potential for a good audience depending on when and where the performance is scheduled.
TESTIMONIALS Ask for testimonials from other groups
A quality tour operator will provide you with multiple testimonials and contact information from other band directors who have taken the same trip you are considering. Call or email that person and ask about their experience. There is no better recommendation than from a colleague who has used the same tour operator. You can also check the tour operator website for video testimonials, or check reviews on third-party rating websites.
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