The Benefits of European Performance Group TravelEmily Ward
As a Music Director, bringing your group to Europe on a performance tour is a life-changing experience for you and your group. To enlighten students with such musical and spiritual growth is the kind of opportunity some only dream of…but the reality of bringing your performance group to Europe is closer then you think. There are so many wonderful and elaborate churches and majestic cathedrals that are ready to be filled with your group’s presence. And there is nothing that can prepare, motivate and inspire your group to reach that next level like the thought of performing in Europe!
When a student experiences new locations, new cultures and new people, with music being the main focus, the revelations and the eye-opening impact that develops is priceless. Students remember these sort of educational trips for the rest of their lives. As an educator, this is the rewarding part of what we do. The classroom is a great place to learn, but travel elevates education and develops individual growth. With globalization reshaping the way we exist on this planet, the more at ease your students become with different people and cultures, the better prepared they will be for the future.
Walking through a city like Vienna, for example, and following the footsteps of Ludwig van Beethoven in a place that celebrates his life with dozens of statues, monuments, and museums, is not only an exercise in music education, but one in history, foreign language, art, and much more. Students are not just performing in a location that has impacted a time and society on an immense level, they are learning about things that encompass their life and how they view the world. When Music Travel Consultants plans a trip, the goal and priority are that the trip must provide an educational experience for the performers.
A great way to select your destination is to reach out to other music directors for recommendations from those who have traveled to Europe before. If there is an opportunity to do a Music Educator Tour, this will give you a first-hand experience into what to expect before your students spend their hard-earned dollars on a trip to Europe. A European performance tour might be the only chance some students get to visit the continent. So, it helps to make the decision, confident that you are providing the best opportunity possible.
Prepare a time frame for your trip. You chosen destination might be best visited on a certain date, but school calendars, student testing, and other activities might eliminate that time period. A great student music group travel company can offer ideas on what has worked best for other schools, but keep in mind that every program is different. “The sooner, the better” rules when selecting travel dates. And planning a year or two ahead allows sufficient time for that all-important fund-raising.
Be sure to work with a travel company that is able to handle emergencies: a firm that has policies and practices in place to address these situations. Your company should have a 24-hour customer service number from which you can reach a live person in an emergency, rather than just a machine. Another important thing to ask is if the company you choose is a member of SYTA, the Student Youth Travel Association. SYTA has rigorous membership requirements, and it only allows select companies, well established and known for quality and stability, to become members. If you are dealing with a company that is not a SYTA member, please be careful.
Having confidence in a company that can assemble a quality performance at the destination is a requirement. Many student group tour companies do not focus on this aspect of the trip, but at MTC, we understand that this is the entire reason the trip is taking place! Locking in this piece of the puzzle needs to be done with panache and proven experience.
Many student performance tour companies offer a standard trip itinerary, and any changes to it quickly add large extra charges to the bottom line. When traveling with a group of any size, you need a company that can switch things up, offer custom itineraries and solve problems without decimating your budget. MTC is proud to offer an unmatched level of service, and we are glad to take on trips that are “out of the box.” Whereas some large companies choose not to work with smaller groups, MTC serves groups from 14 to infinity and beyond! The bottom line is, you are using your chosen travel company’s services for several reasons, and a great company will do everything it can to make the trip be the one you want it to be, within reason. It might be a bit much if you demanded the entire marching band ride elephants in Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but given enough time to prepare, and the right budget . . .
Watch out for those companies that sneak in additional or hidden tour costs or inclusions. MTC pledges no surprises or hidden costs. That may make us seem more expensive up front, but clients value the honesty, and it is just the right thing to do. Always keep in mind that changing the numbers of travelers will affect the tour price. Be aware of schedules for final payments. Know exactly what the penalties are for travelers who withdraw from a trip. Ask if the travel company ever tries to combine your trip with that of another group. This can be a benefit to trip price when two small groups combine. But, it is an inconvenience and an accommodation that changes the quality of your trip experience.
Most tour companies don’t offer a full-time tour director, but when you are trying to focus on the performances, you need someone to take care of all the travel details. MTC goes to great lengths to provide some of the most talented and qualified tour directors, those with extensive training and fun-loving personalities. It is also good to ask what portion of your trip will be tour directed. Most MTC trips are tour directed from your doorstep back to your doorstep.
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Good luck in your planning. Feel free to use this link for a quick reference to qualities you should consider when searching for any travel company (a downloadable checklist is included).
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