❖ marty sarbey de souto, ctc
Keeping Tour Members in the Loop WE OFTEN TEND TO THINK that once someone has enrolled in one of our tours, that’s it. Nothing else to do until we send out final documents and then departure day when we all meet and off we go. Not so. You need to keep in touch with trip participants at various intervals to keep their interest and excitement high and to keep a tight umbilical cord between you and them. You don’t want them canceling out of your trip because something more interesting appeared on their horizon. And you want to keep them informed so they may learn to be better travelers and not drive you crazy calling with questions every few days. So, when do we contact them, what do we send them, and what additional information do we give them? ACKNOWLEDGEMENT MAILING Once someone has enrolled, I send them an acknowledgement of their booking – not just a cold computer receipt but a gracious letter welcoming them to the trip (the receipt can be attached if you wish). I enclose my first information bulletin preparing them for the trip. Since the initial brochure or flyer you’ve used to solicit their enrollment can’t possibly include all the pretrip information they need, this postenrollment bulletin picks up where the initial publicity material left off. Some of the topics I like to cover are anticipated weather, clothing and packing suggestions, and baggage limitations. If it’s an international trip, a must would be requirements such as passports, inoculations and visas (if required). Foreign currency and suggestions for handling monies en route are also important for 8 April 2011
international trips. I also touch on health issues and, of course, travel insurance. The subject of cameras and photography, seat rotation on motorcoaches, and en route medications are also worth mentioning. I like to suggest a couple of books they might like to read (or movies they might like to revisit) to give them background information on areas they’ll be visiting. Right now I’m planning a fall 2011 trip to Berlin and Eastern Germany so I’ve suggested some of the old Cold War spy stories such as the John le Carré’s 1965 The Spy Who Came In From The Cold with Richard Burton.
throughout the entire trip with a prize to the tour member who could come up with the most words wherein British English differed from American English – they came up with over 100 and still counting. ON YOUR RETURN Your participants also deserve a return-home mailing, welcoming them back to the “real world” of bill payments, medical appointments, family squabbles and other less glamorous parts of life. Give them something to remember with pleasure their time
You don’t want them canceling out of your trip because something more interesting appeared on their horizon. Some trip organizers like to do something more elaborate (and costly) such as sending a special T-shirt or flight bag (of course, these have to be priced into your trip budget from the outset). EN ROUTE MAILING If there’s a fairly long flight involved at the outset of your trip, I like to give them some fun handout en route. It could be a puzzle you dream up or a vocabulary lesson of common phrases or words they’ll be likely to encounter at their destination. Do your travelers to New Orleans really know what beignets are or do visitors to San Francisco know that Nob Hill and its old mansions represent wealthy homes of the so-called “robber barons” who built the first transcontinental railroad? On a trip to England last year, I ran a contest
with you: a photo, a souvenir, news of an upcoming reunion or just a welcome home letter. And a questionnaire to complete and let you know how they felt about the tour. (Be sure to put a place on this form for them to refer friends to you). Do keep them on a mailing list to receive advance notice of your next tour so they feel they’ve been given special treatment. All a lot of extra work? Perhaps. Worth it? You betcha. Marty is founder of the travel industry program at Berkeley (Calif.) City College, where she taught all aspects of group travel for 32 years. She is a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) and continues to design and lead tours as well as provide consulting services.You may reach her at josemarty@ yahoo.com. For information on her book How To Plan, Operate, and Lead Successful Group Tours, click on Premier Tourism Marketing's educational website, groupuniversity.com.
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