Choosing a Travel Planner for your Student Performance Tour

Apr 28, 2015

Travel Notes

If you were hiring an assistant—you’d put them through a pretty thorough application process, wouldn’t you?  When you’re planning a student tour, the travel planner you choose is your second in command, and you should assess them just as thoroughly as you would a potential new employee.  While you’re sizing up the different applicants, here are a few things to consider:

Does the travel planner listen to you?

Odds are, you and your students have been looking forward to this trip for a long time, and you have some ideas of your own about what you’ll be doing.  For a travel planner that uses the same itinerary for every group, deviating from the standard might present some problems. If you have ideas for how to spend your time on tour—or if you’re not sure a suggested attraction is what your group is looking for—your travel planner should help you find a better solution.

Who are the travel planner’s partners?

Travel planners work with restaurants, hotels, transportation providers, attractions and performance venues to make your trip a success. What’s your travel planner’s relationship like with these partners?  Through consistent collaboration, travel planners and their partners begin to function more like teammates than business associates—and that means a much smoother experience for you, too.  Keep an eye on how your travel planner interacts with their partners throughout your tour.

How helpful are the travel planner’s tour directors?

When you arrive at your destination, your tour director is the one who makes sure everything runs smoothly.  Since so much depends on the tour director, you want them to be an expert on both your group and your destination.  Even more importantly, this person should be knowledgeable and resourceful, yet flexible when issues arise on the road. Find out from your travel planner ahead of time who you will be meeting at your destination.  How long have they been working with student groups?  How well do they know the area you’ll be visiting?  Do they have any certifications, an understanding of music, or other qualifications?  Your tour director should take some time to get to know you too, touching base with you before the tour so that they understand how best to serve you.

Is the travel planner there when you need them?

Being there for you – both before and on the tour – is vital to your trip’s success. If your only pre-trip interaction with your travel planner is an occasional email, chances are that they are not going to see the complete picture of what’s best for your ensemble. Invite your travel planner to meet you in person to discuss your trip, and to attend your booster or pre-trip parent meeting. When you are on your tour, your tour director should have your travel planner’s cell phone number as well as a 24/7 emergency contact, and both of those numbers should be provided to you as well.

How does the travel planner assure quality?

It’s perfectly normal to hear “this call may be monitored for quality assurance” nowadays—but with a travel planner, there’s more at stake than just good customer service. With so many variables to manage, what sort of internal review process does your travel planner have in place? Ideally, there should be a management-led process which assesses the quality and logistical efficiency of your tour before, during, and after your journey. Even if the travel planner has a review process in place, the ultimate measure of any travel planner’s success is the satisfaction of their clients. Request references from your travel planner; they should be able to send you many.

By now, you should be able to put together a pretty solid job description for your travel planner selection process:  the travel planner should produce personalized tour itineraries of consistent quality; they should provide in-person service for you and your group; they should use knowledgeable, veteran tour directors; they should share many references; and they should be a top partner with attractions, hotels, transportation providers and performance venues. When you are ready to begin, contact the Bob Rogers Travel team – we are excited to show you what makes us right for the job.

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