Choosing the right student music group travel companyBen Hilmer
When a student experiences new locations, new cultures and new people, with music being a main focus, the revelations and the eye-opening impact that develop are 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. Choosing the right student music group travel company is key to making the best memories and providing the best education for your students and their parents.
When searching for a music group travel company, the first goal and priority is that the trip must provide an educational experience for your performers. Some music directors have been bamboozled by cheap trips or enticements like ‘free trip for director’s family’. It is very easy to get lost in the dangling carrots, instead of focusing on what is most important. Planning a music trip can be overwhelming, and seasoned music directors know that to ensure the best educational experience possible, it’s smart to delegate the majority of travel details. Having the support of a student music group travel company that can carefully craft such an important experience can make all the difference. There are plenty of student travel planners available – just do a quick Google search. Music Travel Consultants is a company completely devoted to music groups. Led by accomplished scholastic music directors and musicians, Music Travel Consultants is specifically geared to allow the director to focus on the performance and not have to worry about everything else. Obviously, we want to point out which student music group travel company you should use (us!). But, most of all, we want you, as a fellow music educator, to make the most educated and informed decision possible when choosing a student travel provider.
A great way to start is to reach out to other music directors and get recommendations from those who have used a company before. Ask them if they have been on any recent trips, and if so, what was great about the trip? Ask about the good and the bad. Ask what they would have done differently, and ask if they would do the same trip again. Then, before signing on with any company, ask it for testimonials from past clients. Your travel company decision will reflect directly on you. To have input from and backing from your peers goes a long way.
Prepare a time frame for your trip. You might have a destination in mind that is best visited on a certain date, but school calendars, student testing, and other activities might get in the way. A great student music group travel company can offer you 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, even if you need to plan a year and a half or more ahead.
You will want 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 solves problems without decimating your budget. MTC is proud to offer an unmatched level of service and 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 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 doorstep to 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).
Contact Music Travel Consultants to start planning your choir trip!