70 Hacks for Student Travel Planning

The editors of Student Travel Planning Guide offer travel organizers advice on negotiating with hotels, chartering a bus, choosing chaperones and mapping out a trip planning timeline.

Anyone who’s ever organized a trip for their students know these adventures don’t just happen—they take hours of careful planning and a team of competent individuals ready, willing and able to assist. Whether it’s choosing a hotel, chartering a bus, selecting chaperones or mapping out a trip planning timelime, our editors chime in on how to keep your next student trip on track.

Negotiating with Hotels

iStock_000018683570SmallIf you are not working with a tour operator, you will need to negotiate directly with the hotel sales department to get the best deal for your group. You’ll rest more comfortably by following these tips:

  • Provide the sales department with the approximate number of sleeping rooms needed, the types of rooms needed, and the dates you want
  •  Book early to ensure your preferred dates and save money, and avoid national holidays unless your trip is based around it
  •  Ask if free breakfast is included and whether it is continental, buffet or a full hot breakfast
  •  Inquire about the hotel’s comp policy—free rooms provided for x number of reservations
  •  Determine if the room rate includes all taxes, tips and hotel/resort fees
  •  Ask about free meeting/party rooms and welcome receptions
  •  Find out if there is free internet access
  •  Inquire if the hotel has been used by other student groups
  •  Use technology to your advantage; websites like grouptravel.hotelplanner.com allow you to post your group request and multiple hotels will bid on your business
  •  Know the deposit and final payment date

Before you sign on the dotted line, know the following:

  •  Be aware of the last day to cancel without losing money
  •  Find out if the hotel has an attrition clause on unused rooms
  •  Get everything in writing, from total price to number of rooms to the smallest promised service
  •  Research the safety of the neighborhood where the hotel is located using websites like spotcrime.com
  •  Investigate the distance from the central city or major attractions using sites like Walkscore.com
  •  Inquire about the hotel’s security program
  •  Inquire about airport/mall transportation – if you have long days on the bus, this will help out the driver immensely

Choosing Great Chaperones

iStock_000042378104LargeChaperones Should…

  •  Have experience working with adolescents
  •  Be willing to help plan and facilitate activities
  •  Be able to attend all pre-tour meetings
  •  Assist with documentation needs such as passports and visas
  •  Prepare to spend money on items not covered in tour
  •  Be able to chaperone small groups of students on flights or tours
  •  Follow all tour guidelines in respect to student expectations

On Tour Responsibilities Include…

  •  Being on call 24/7 in case of emergency
  •  Assisting with student disciplinary matters
  •  Responsibility for small groups of students throughout tour
  •  Helping facilitate curfews and room checks at night
  •  Staying behind if a student is too ill to participate in the day’s activities
  •  Accompanying a student home in case of severe illness
  •  Making sure students are ready at the proper time
  •  Monitoring activities during free time
  •  Willingness to accompany students on free day excursions
  •  Taking over the group if the lead teacher cannot complete the tour

Creating a Trip Planning Timeline

18-24 months prior

  •  Determine purpose of trip – academic or sightseeing
  •  Develop list of invitees
  •  Make a list of potential destinations – domestic and international
  •  Determine approximate length and dates of trip
  •  Have an approximate cost in mind

12 months prior

  •  Choose location and dates
  •  Choose tour operator or start making arrangements on own
  •  Finalize itinerary and set price
  •  Start chaperone selection process
  •  Announce tour and start promoting it – snail mail, email, social media and in-school
  •  Create fundraising plan

6-9 months prior

  •  Early participants should be signed up with deposits paid
  •  Create a list of reading materials or study exercises to prepare students
  •  If a passport or visa is required, now is the time to apply
  •  Promotion, promotion, promotion

3 months prior

  •  Contact students who have shown interest but not committed
  •  Final payments start becoming due
  •  Arrange group transportation to and from airport (if needed)
  •  Have students choose roommates for hotels

One month prior

  •  Schedule a final meeting to confirm trip details and packing lists
  •  Gather emergency contact, medical and allergy information
  •  For overseas trips, ensure participants have passports, adaptors for electronics and spending money in proper currency

Tips for Chartering a Bus

motorcoach

Before signing on the dotted line, ask these questions…

  •  How long has your company been in business?
  •  How many motorcoaches do you own?
  •  What is the average age of your fleet?
  •  What onboard amenities will the coach you charter have?
  •  Are food and beverages allowed onboard?
  •  When quoting rates, are taxes, tips, parking, tolls and driver’s hotel room included?
  •  What are the deposit, final payment and cancellation clauses and dates?

Safety and Financial Matters

  •  Motorcoach companies must have federal operating authority if they cross state or provincial lines and should be able to offer you that proof
  •  Ask for a current insurance certificate that provides a minimum of $5 million in liability coverage
  •  Ask for the US DOT number which allows you to view the carrier’s safety and insurance information
  •  Ask the company about safety and inspection policies
  •  Long or quick turn-around trips may require an extra driver to adhere to federal hours of service safety regulations
  •  Ask if the operator is a member of bus industry associations ABA or UMA
  •  For customer service ratings on bus companies, contact www.bbb.org

Download the 2015 Edition of the Student Travel Planning Guide Today to see this and other great articles!

Summary
70 Hacks for Student Travel Planning
Article Name
70 Hacks for Student Travel Planning
Description
The editors of Student Travel Planning Guide offer travel organizers advice on negotiating with hotels, chartering a bus, choosing chaperones and mapping out a trip planning timeline.
Student Travel Planning Guide

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