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Keys to Promoting a Successful Student Trip

Oct 17, 2007
Once you have decided to embark on a student travel experience a well-designed promotional program for parents and students is the key step in making it a reality. All too frequently a trip is cancelled due to lack of interest and low enrollment. Not only will a well-promoted trip increase participation and keep the cost low for everyone, it will also ensure you meet your projected participant counts. This article examines the key components to a successful promotional program.

Plan, Plan, Plan:
Much the same way that detailed lesson planning results in a quality learning experience, advance planning and attention to detail are not only keys to successful promotion, but can also ensure success in future years. Once you have a successful travel experience, the groundwork has been laid for it to become an annual tradition with enthusiastic support throughout the community.

Although teachers have historically used posters, handouts and parent meetings to promote their trips, keeping excitement and interest high for an extended period of time requires additional strategies. I suggest creating visual aides such as classroom and/or hallway displays devoted to the destination, writing an article for the school newsletter, district newsletter and the school website, and sending frequent email announcements to parents and students.

Students are generally enthusiastic about school travel, but we all know that their parents make the decisions. I strongly recommend that all of the trip information be mailed home. I also recommend you hold an informational meeting for parents to kick start the enrollment period and a final meeting just prior to departure. By giving parents every opportunity to become comfortable with the details of the trip and the focus on education and safety, you increase interest and participation. Established student tour providers like Travel Adventures have a Parent Guide that can be used at a parent meeting or sent home with other trip information.

The trip details are equally important! Parents and students need written documentation to reinforce what gets said about the trip during class meetings. Important information such as participant eligibility guidelines and rules, fundraising guidelines, the itinerary, payment schedules, and dates for important meetings should all be written for distribution.

In addition, health forms, travel insurance information, transportation details, birth certificates/visas (for international travel and border crossings), and participant registration information must be printed and distributed to students and parents. Parents expect their kids to return safely; they will participate when they know the school is taking precautions to ensure their safety. Student tour providers like Travel Adventures have prepared forms that can be photocopied for distribution.

Allow Plenty of Lead Time:
Students and parents need as much time as possible to plan for the trip. Scheduling your trip a minimum of 8-10 months in advance will not only allow for an extended enrollment period, but will spread out the payments and allow time for a fundraiser. In this day and age, it has become increasingly important to provide at least one major opportunity for students to earn money toward their own trip cost. I recommend getting your PTO or similar parents' group involved in fundraising to broaden the interest base. It's also a common practice for music and theater groups to put on a dinner show or special performance to help raise money for the trip.

Promote to Include all Students:
Many schools try to have nearly every student in the grade or classroom go on the trip; while others take only a target group like the band or chorus. Regardless of the group size, think of the trip as a class or whole group activity. When everyone is included there is greater interest and higher enrollment.

Do Your Trip Right:
As you plan your trip, be sure that you are getting the best value. Using the cheapest motorcoaches, hotels, and meals may appear to save you money, but you get what you pay for. Families understand value. Student tour providers like Travel Adventures focus on quality and price, providing the best value for your travel dollars.

When deciding whether to include student travel in the curriculum, parents, teachers and administrators rate student safety as their number one concern. I recommend selecting a student tour provider that makes safety their top priority. Health and accident insurance, liability insurance, and safety features like name tags with a 24-hour emergency hotline and nighttime security at the hotel will ensure the safety of all trip participants.

Finally, I recommend preparing a travel itinerary that mixes fun with learning. When young people are learning new information, they retain it best in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Including entertainment like a Broadway show, dinner theater, or a visit to an amusement park will help draw students into the learning experiences that are the focal part of the trip.

As you can see, with the proper organization, planning, and communication, promoting your student trip will eliminate the risk of low enrollment and produce an educational travel experience that will be the highlight of the school year.
About the Author
Travel Adventures is staffed by educators who understand the needs of teachers. We've been creating unique and educational student travel experiences since 1987. We provide hassle-free travel arrangements while empowering teachers to create change by expanding the classroom to the world. Our experienced team of travel professionals is dedicated to exceeding your student travel expectations. Visit Travel Adventures
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