22 February 2015

Recruiting for your trip

So you've got your tour all set up.  It's been approved by whomever needed to approve it and now you need to recruit. What should you do?


Advertise your upcoming tour around your school, through school announcements, on the school website, through a message sent home to parents and of course, in your classroom! Let everyone who might be eligible know that you are leading a tour and set a meeting date. Initial meetings should be held at a time when parents can attend, since it is ultimately up to them if their child will be allowed to travel.  Students of course are welcome but parents are the decision makers.  

Once you've advertised and you've set a date, you should put together an agenda.  Your organization will speak volumes about how you will be as a tour leader.  Remember that you are asking parents to trust you with their most precious possessions. If you seem nervous or poorly organized, they might be hesitant to let their child participate.

Here's what I would include in my agenda:

I. Introduction -- Introduce yourself, giving any pertinent professional information like how many years you have been teaching and how your supervisory skills are.  Tell parents who the chaperones will be (if you know) as well.  If they are in attendance, a brief introduction would be appropriate.

II.  The tour - If you like, you can put together something very easily using PowerPoint or other presentational software to show pictures of the places you plan to visit.  Go over the itinerary with them in some detail.  What will you be doing there? What will you see?

Next, I would go over what a typical day on tour might be like.  In my experience, we usually wake early and are out early on guided sightseeing tours.  From lunch to dinner time, is free time.  How will you structure your free time? Will you allow students to go off on their own and meet back at an agreed meeting spot or will you structure even the ¨free¨ time?  I personally prefer to break up into small, pre-assigned groups led by one of the chaperones.  Within these smaller groups, you will decide where to have lunch and what they would like to do : shop or take in some more sights or both.  Then all smaller groups meet up at a designated meeting point to go on to dinner where they can all discuss what they did during their free time.  I prefer pre-assigned groups to avoid confusion as to who is with who today. Another great way to make sure you have everyone is to assign everyone a number and have them count off each time you all get back together as a large group and before you move on to your next stops.

III.  What is included? Let parents and students know exactly what is included in the tour price.  Usually, tour price will cover airfare, hotels, some meals, admission to some museums, guided sightseeing, transportation within the country of travel and a tour director.  Some typically non-included costs are: tips, transportation to/from airport, some meals, passport fees, insurance and souvenirs.  Once you've covered this, you can tell them the pricing.  There are usually payment options available.  Check with your tour operator for their payment options.  I do like to plan about 2 years in advance so that the payments seem more manageable.

Here is also a good place to let parents know about currency exchange rates, how much you recommend per day for spending money, if you will arrange for transportation to/from airport (your best bet to make sure for a smooth check-in at airport), when/if you plan to collect tip money ahead of time (highly recommended).

IV.  Passports 
For all foreign travel, students will need a current passport.  Check with the country where you plan to travel.  Many countries require that passports be valid for up to 6 or 7 months after you return.  Passports can generally be obtained through your local post office and can take up to 8 weeks to process.  If a student is under 16, both parents are required to be at the post office at the time of application and their passport will be valid only 5 years.  After 16, passports are valid for 10 years.  For more passport info, click here.

V.  Miscellaneous
Here you might want to discuss school rules regarding the trip.  I have students and parents sign a behavior contract so that they know what type of behavior is expected and what consequences there can be if they do not adhere to rules.  

VI.  Question/ Answer
Ask parents if they have any questions about anything they have seen/heard.  Answer the best you can.  If you don't have an answer, ask for contact information and tell them you will be in touch with answer.  Offer your professional contact information because many will think of questions afterwards.  Remember, this is a huge decision for many and knowing that you are available will ease their minds.

Good luck with your recruiting! I'll be back to talk about other important travel topics like choosing your chaperones, how to handle the enormous responsibility, customized vs. book tours and more! Stay tuned!

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