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Student Travel - 7 Tips To Success

Who's Your TripDaddy?

Travel: it’s easy right? Pick a destination. Find a hotel. Pick a few highlights to see along the way. Research some fun places to eat. Invite a few friends. To many, travel is an adventure of discovery and exploration. Now, invite 25 - 500 of your closest friends (students, staff, parents, etc., you know the type) and apply the same scenario. The logistics may still sound easy. Why use a tour operator if you believe you can plan the trip yourself and try to save a few dollars? Let’s count the ways a professional travel planner can make your life easier, your trips more affordable, and give you back YOUR time!

The theory that trips run by tour operators are more expensive, is often founded on a perspective based on perceived access and information gathered on the internet. One may only consider the price of individual items and not the cost of doing the legwork. What’s the cost of liability? What’s the cost of a mistake made in planning? What’s the cost of a delay? What’s the cost of mechanical situations with a bus? What’s the cost of a medical incident with a student on a trip? What’s the cost of going over bus driver hours on EDL’s. What exactly is an EDL? What’s the value of your time, your personal time?

These questions and more can be answered by taking the time to consider working with a tour operator, like Group Travel Network.

The fact is, travel isn’t easy! The issues that are often addressed before, during, and even after a trip are infinite. Most tour operators have literally seen it all and experienced most of what they’ve seen. It’s why some big events require student groups to work with a professional tour operator. They require the communication with a professional entity whose sole job and responsibility it is to care for the safety and coordination of the group.

In this article, we’d like to share with you the top 7 reasons why you should consider traveling with a tour operator!

Tour operators:

1. Focused on Safety:

Tour operators are in the business of providing amazing experiences for their clients. Group Travel Network prides itself on doing this through proactive planning. This means thinking around corners and training their staff in effective business practices as it pertains to the safety and security of your group during a trip. Crisis planning, incident management, and resiliency are all words that every tour operator should be employed when building a trip. Tour operators use resources from a destination’s CVB, local law enforcement and work with outside vendors to consider the most enjoyable, efficient and stress-free travel experience for all travelers. Appropriate safety protocols and measured response outlets are employed in the event of an incident. Experienced tour operators will always be prepared!

2. Know the Law:

Did you know that many states require tour operators to be a licensed seller of travel? Did you know that many counties and school districts have approved vendor lists, which include tour operators? Tour operators possess the licenses and insurance  (such as errors and omissions) required to sell and coordinate travel. Regulations in the travel industry come from all directions. From rules about air travel with minors to bus company requirements to tracking bus driver hours on electronic driver logs (EDLs), tour operators monitor safety regulations, state mandates and federal laws very closely.

3. Professional Professionals

Group Travel Network, like many other tour operators, are members of nationally and internationally recognized professional associations such as SYTA (The Student and Youth Travel Association) and ABA (The American Bus Association). Associations such as these provide members with critical educational opportunities that relate to industry trends, effective safety practices and an opportunity to interact and network with other member companies to ensure a tight network of engaged entities. They help to lobby for causes that impact the travel industry such as the recent increase to entrance fees for National Parks. These associations offer continuing education credits to employees of member companies for accreditation. They offer webinars and training on a variety of topics that range from safety to business tax laws and everything in between.  Member companies to these associations operate by a code of ethics that help the industry, as a whole, cater to the needs of the clients. It’s a supportive industry regardless of “competition”. Tour operators understand that the industry is sensitive to negative headlines and everyone works together to provide ethical and educational foundations for student travel.

4. Connections: Networking Works!

Tour operators leverage connections across the industry, not only to maximize pricing benefits for their clients (think buying in volume!) but can also leverage those connections to provide unique and specific opportunities to groups that the general public would never be able to achieve! These connections also serve tour operators well to understand upcoming events or yet to be released promotions that could benefit future groups! These insider tips often lead to beneficial information such as road closures for events, preferred parking, reduced unforeseen costs, and exclusive opportunities for youth groups.

5. Dedicated to Service

Tour operators are with you every step of the way! Trips take months to plan effectively and from the first moment of inquiry to the moment the last student returns home, your tour operator is dedicated to the successful execution of the trip! At Group Travel Network, this means working outside the norm of the standard 9-5 day. It means having years of collective experience from our employees, frequent communication and it means we are here to answer the concerns of parents and teachers alike. It means, you are not alone and we have your back! It means, tour operators truly doe have your best interest at the center of their entire process.

6. Devil in the Details

Details, details, details! Details can be tiny and often afterthoughts, but those small items can snowball into big problems if not managed correctly. Itinerary timing management is critical. Ensuring that the small details are managed can be the difference in arriving early to a scheduled appointment with tickets already in hand or taking a wrong turn and arriving 15 minutes late, only to find you have to stand in line to collect your admission tickets, or worse. Let a tour operator worry about the details and allow you a stress-free experience! Tour operators offer inside knowledge and resources such as information about travel protection, giving your group the peace of mind that in the event something does go wrong, you are covered!

7. Destination Experts

Tour operators are destination experts. At Group Travel Network, ask us about a destination. Odds are, we’ve traveled groups there….and probably even been there to personally “learn” the destination. We know what to expect. How long does it take to get to the Capitol Building from Mount Vernon, VA? In morning rush hour? In the late springtime? When there is a Washington Nationals baseball game scheduled the same day? Oh, and you need to account for security line at the Capitol Building and the hike up the hill from the bus drop off point. This is just one example, in one destination, at one venue. Think about how many variables must be considered in every venue you plan to visit during your trip. We immerse ourselves in a city and plan the best trip possible, based upon the desires of our clients. That next dream destination? Odds are, we’ve been there too and we’d love to take you there!

We’re hopeful that these 7 reasons have provided you with some useful knowledge about why it’s important to use a tour operator when planning all your group travel needs! When you begin planning your next student travel adventure, we humbly suggest that you consider researching and using a tour operator! Group Travel Network would love to showcase our services to you and your students, but if that isn’t the best fit for you please make sure your preferred travel planner is SYTA Tour Operator.

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