Well, the obvious answer is YES!
Sure, you can book a bus and book a hotel. And you can think of things for your students to do, to eat, to learn. But don’t discount what a travel planner has to offer your group: on-the-ground experience, safety concerns, and financial security.
Do what you do best: teach music! Booster parents can be useful, but they come and go. Establishing a relationship with a trusted travel planner lightens the load for you, both time-wise and stress-wise. Working with someone who knows your school community, understands your travel history, and can design a trip that excites your students to learn is simply invaluable.
Get real about your personal time limitations. While you’re researching hotels and charter bus companies, you aren’t prepping for or teaching your classes, rehearsing for your concerts, returning phone calls and emails, repairing instruments on-the-fly, selecting music, or any of the myriad number of other details you’re required to do. To plan a successful trip, you must devote some serious time to planning and implementing trip details. A travel planner manages those details with experience and expertise. Connected with many contacts in the travel industry, we get results for competitive hotel rates, insider tips for attractions, and pricing discounts that reflect the business that we generate. Just as you wouldn’t ask someone who can sing “Happy Birthday” at a birthday party to teach students to sing or play an instrument, you wouldn’t expect a music teacher to replace a travel professional whose career is devoted to organizing student group trips.
How does a travel planner ensure that my trip will be as safe as possible? We regularly inspect hotels and attractions, so we can steer groups away from problematic accommodations and activities. Our standards for hotels means you can count on a clean, secure, and comfortable night’s sleep. Our itineraries are designed to comply with laws regarding driver’s hours of service. We’ve developed relationships with motor coach companies whose focus is safety. 24/7 phone support is always available, if emergencies arise. Our goal is to continually meet and exceed professional standards and offer the best service possible for student groups.
First things first, right? The basics are important, but a travel planner focuses on more than the basics. Logistics, transportation timelines (how long does it take to get from A to B?), budgetary concerns (what can we do within our budget), suggestions for group meals (meal vouchers, student-friendly restaurants, hotels with complimentary evening socials, breakfast options, etc.), suggestions for performing, suggestions for curriculum-led activities – all are part and parcel of overseeing an itinerary that allows your group to enjoy a fantastic trip of a lifetime.
Professional memberships do count! The pre-eminent organization that promotes safe, professional student travel is SYTA –Student Youth Travel Association. In order to join, tour operators must agree to follow a code of ethics that includes honesty and integrity, truth in advertising, commitment to satisfaction, professional conduct, and compliance with the law. In addition, several states require tour operators to register and be certified as sellers of travel. There are financial requirements that must be met. We are also proud to be members of Nafme (National Association for Music Education), the String Industry Council of ASTA (American String Teachers Association), and ACDA (American Choral Directors Association). All of these organizations promote and encourage business partnerships that advance music education including a learning environment where travel plays a part.
You need a logistics-expert that strikes a balance between the needs of your group, stays within your budget, and provides support from the first phone call to the end of the trip. You need a travel planner that incorporates fun AND education. You need a travel planner who is dedicated to delivering a smooth and worry-free trip. So, do you need a travel planner? The answer is a resounding YES! And we want to help you plan a trip of a lifetime!