By: Raymond Geissler
Tour operators for the student travel market have a great responsibility. It is their job to make sure students are safe, hotels are clean, meals are hot, venues are educational, and parks are fun.
But the one aspect of serving students that stands out to me above those basic expectations is respect. Respect is what brings student groups back for repeat visits.
Showing students respect can be done in a variety of ways:
- Welcome them warmly and embrace them. Remember, many student travelers have never been farther from home than their bus ride to school. Usually, they have worked hard to be able to go on the trip by fundraising and sacrificing time.
- Thank them for coming and let them know you are genuinely glad they are participating.
- Be patient with their sometimes seemingly crazy questions—most of their questions are actually legitimate.
- Encourage them to post pictures and messages throughout their trip. By providing them with photo opportunities, you will make both the students and the destinations happy, as the destinations may get some great free marketing.
- Treat the teachers with respect, since they are the ones who will most likely help to make travel decisions for the next year.
- Treat the motorcoach driver with respect and help him or her to keep a positive attitude. If a driver has to drop your group off in a downtown location and keep circling around for parking, bring him or her something back from Little Italy!
- Be prepared by talking with the motorcoach company ahead of time regarding routes and pick-up and drop-off points. Nothing is worse than the person with GPS in the third row asking you why the driver didn’t use the shortcut. Advance preparation will enable you to confidently answer such questions while impressing parents and teachers.
A tour operator’s small gestures of respect will pay off in big ways: Students will have memorable experiences and they will want to keep coming back for more.
Raymond “Bud” Geissler is the national group sales manager at Travel Insured International. Before entering the insurance industry, he was a student travel tour operator for 20 years. Geissler can be reached at email@example.com or www.travelinsured.com.