How to choose an educational travel partner: 7 questions to ask before you book a thing

We’re excited to hear from our clients that many are starting to look ahead to educational travel for the second half of 2022 and beyond. Now is the time to plan and book if you want to secure the best deals, flights, accommodation and experiences for the 2023 (and even 2024) school years!

When it comes to planning an educational tour, it’s easy to get excited by an itinerary that seems too good to be true. In general, in the world of school touring, as in life – anything that probably looks too good to be true, usually is!

We recommend asking any potential touring partner the following seven questions to ensure you’re getting:

  • The best student travel experience at the best price; and
  • Unconditional support every step of the journey – before, during and after your tour.

  1. What type and level of hotel are we staying at?
    If you are not familiar with the hotel, ask about it and check it out online. For example, staying in a hostel with backpackers is not the same as a quality hostel designed for school groups.
    If the tour operator can tell you the hotel before you have even booked the tour, then it’s likely they may have to change this when you do book. A hotel will not guarantee space for you until the booking is made.
    If they can guarantee that hotel, then you are probably dealing with a huge operation that has so many tours, they probably don’t take the time to really customise your experience.
  2. Are you a tour operator or a travel agency?
    A travel agency uses third party operators in most tour locations. This means that when something goes wrong, you won’t be dealing with your tour co-ordinator.
    Meanwhile, a great tour operator books and organises all elements themselves, so they can solve any issues that arise. You’ll only be dealing with them, which makes life much easier!
  3. What exactly is included and pre-paid in the itinerary? Will I have to pay extra to fill any free days?
    The costing you receive from a travel agency or educational tour company may be less expensive because you have free days where nothing is included. A good educational tour company will understand that all your activities should be included and paid for before you go. It’s also worth looking at how many activities you have in the itinerary in comparison to other organisations – and how relevant those activities are to what you want your students to learn/experience.
    Before you choose a tour provider, ensure that you have gone over their inclusions with a fine-toothed comb. If that information is not obvious in an itinerary or quote, then you need to ask why.
  4. Does your itinerary include experiential learning activities, and if so, how many?
    Your itinerary should include carefully designed projects and experiential learning activities, so that students get the most out of their tour. Typically, a high percentage of your tour will be sightseeing and we question if this is the best way for your students to learn – though of course it is important to see the iconic sights wherever you go!
    Workshops, clinics, classes, themed guided tours, Q & A sessions, simulations and more are an integral part of any educationally robust touring itinerary, so that students are thoroughly engaged in the learning process.
  5. Is your itinerary truly linked to my school’s curriculum?
    Most tour operators specialising in educational tours will tell you that their tours are curriculum based. They might look at the heading of the major topic in the curriculum. But do they dig down into the curriculum documents to know the electives you can choose, the difference between subjects and all the possible experiential learning opportunities linked to each?
    Most itineraries you will see are not custom designed for your curriculum but are standard tours that are offered to every school. Make sure that you are getting a tour that has been thoughtfully crafted specifically for your needs – and definitely for the curriculum you teach.
  6. Is the tour custom designed? Does it include special activities and locations?
    Every school and every teacher have different needs and ideas about what they want in their tour. It’s not only about the location, but also about designing an itinerary that’s linked to the curriculum you teach, as well as the learning outcomes for students. There are all sorts of specific requirements that each teacher has and these need to be respected, understood and included in your tour, where at all possible.
  7. Are a tour director and specialist guides included?
    Your tour director will organise all the logistics for you, ensuring everything runs smoothly. They will make sure everyone is safe and that you get to where you need to be in good time to have a great experience. They are also licensed guides and will be able to offer knowledgeable commentary along the way.
    Specialist guides are often trained in the specific subject or area you are studying and will be able to provide useful knowledge and information. A tour escort, on the other hand, is only there to organise logistics and get you from A to B. They do not provide any guiding services, or commentary.
    Finally, if you are planning to handle the touring duties yourself, please tread carefully. Many countries have local laws about whether you are allowed to be the guide for your group. Guiding your group without the correct credentials can result in fines. Your tour provider should be familiar with the laws in each country.
    Find out more

This article is an extract from our brochure Questions You Need to Ask: Choosing Tour Provider. It’s essential reading before you choose a partner for your next school touring program. To receive a copy of the full brochure, please send us an email.

You can also order digital copies of our full suite of brochures here.

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