Updated: Dec 19, 2018
You're an educator that's interested in leading an international tour for your students, but you're not quite sure where to start. You have some personal connections in other countries of interest, or friends of friends, but you're not sure how much they can help set up your tour. Also, you see after a quick google search that there is a litany of different travel companies to choose from should you want to work with a company in creating your tour. You may be confused, but you're not alone!
The simple answer is that it's not a one size fits all. The answer for you will most likely be different than the answer that other schools derive, based on many factors. Below are our 6 Things to Consider "Do It Yourself" versus "Provider Led" for Educational Tours Today:
Logistical Booking Processes:
Getting the Registrations: Effective Marketing
Payment Processing Transparency
Your Personal Network or Global Partnerships
If you have had the idea for traveling globally with your students, you probably have some connections that have come to mind! If you're a Spanish teacher from Costa Rica or Peru, there is a good chance that you have people you trust back in your home country to be able to help you with planning! This is great, if they can prove to be an effective resource for you in arranging the itinerary and logistics.
Due to the nature of their job, Providers are invested in building relationships around the world in specific areas of market interest (aka. their prospect schools' interests). So, they may have done much of the work for you already. Any reputable educational travel provider should have a list of experiences or locations to peruse for you on their website. In fact, you as a school get to benefit from the successful experiences that Providers have developed with other schools around the world. Check the Provider's testimonials to learn more about successful experiences.
Although it's not said outright typically, Parents of students that you are presenting the itinerary to most likely have a cut off point in their mind in what they would like to pay. That cut off point could be based off of what they are seeing online, what they feel like their student could travel with family for, or what they have paid previously for educational tours. Performing a DIY program gives you the ability to have more control over the specific line item costs of the educational tour (flights, hotels, tour guides, etc.).
Like any other company that you'd work with in other areas of life, working with a provider will come with an up charge. They'll make money off of the volume of the project (from their supplier connections abroad) and/or from a service fee per student. This is something to take into consideration as you determine what your students can afford. It often helps if you are upfront with the provider on your budget per student, include Free of Cost (FOC) Trip Leaders that may be chaperoning the experience. Your Provider may be able to save you money in areas where they have economies of scale (aka. they're booking experiences for many groups, so they get volume discounts).
This section all depends if you're working for a private or public school, and whether you are working with the Provider independently from the school or partnering administratively on the experience. If you are working for a public school, chances are that your administration will be looser with your working with a provider and allow you to independently sign agreements that place you as the Chaperone for students. From there, you'll have parents of students sign Assumption of Risk and Release forms to relieve your liability should anything happen abroad outside of your control. In a DIY model, you'll need to create these forms yourself. When working with a Provider, they will have all of the forms necessary to work with you regardless if you are in a public or private institution. It is also likely that if you are in a private institution, the administration will likely want to know who they are partnering with on global travel and go through a series of vetting procedures.
Logistical Booking Processes
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles! Well, there's more than that, but you get the point. In a DIY model, you'll need to work backwards from your parents' ideal budget for their students and come to a conclusion on what your costs for each area of the itinerary will result in. Then, you'll need to go to each of their booking websites and independently purchase the reservations for the experience. Things like deciding between what airports to fly in and out of, ensuring that passports are up to date, that city taxes are included for hotel room, etc. can be frustrating for someone who is not a travel agent or operator. Providers have all of these aggregation systems in place to ensure that the itinerary is efficient and cost effective as possible for the school group. If you're experience in booking travel, this section may be totally fine for DIY, but agents have ways to streamlining these processes.
Getting the Numbers: Marketing for Registrations
Many trips fall through in this stage. Educators weren't created to be sales people, and this is, in reality a sales and marketing process. Once itinerary logistics are defined, it's the job of the educator to effectively sell the trip to their students and parents. For a DIY model, this could be an itinerary on a work document or PDF, with a link to google forms where parents can register! Given that providers can only make money if they get student registrations, they have to beef up their itinerary and marketing to be prettier than the average word document. For example, Our Human Family leverages a software called Travefy to make pretty itineraries that parents love and truly sell the experience. See an example itinerary here for Martinique.
Payment Processing Transparency
Ah, the fun of collecting money when you need it for booking logistics. The question many educators ask in a DIY model are: How much money to take for a deposit? Should I offer a payment plan? What about students who cannot afford it? This can be complicating for educators as it's likely that many of their transportation suppliers probably don't have the same payment terms, so they need to get paid at different times. Providers solve this issue by requiring a deposit, final payment, and payment plan in between should parents desire that option. Providers can do this by establishing payment terms with trusted suppliers ahead of time.
We hope this has helped you learn more about your options as you starting your planning process! If you ever have any questions for the Our Human Family team, please feel free to reach out on the Contact Us tab in the header!