The Benefits of Using a Reputable Tour Operator to book your school trip

The Benefits of Using a Reputable Tour Operator to book your school trip

Some teachers believe that if they make all the arrangements for a school tour themselves it will be cheaper, they will have more control over their own arrangements & get the itinerary that they want.

There are, however, serious downsides to the DIY approach that are often overlooked. For instance, who picks up the tab if the coach company or hotel you want to use goes out of business after you have paid them? Who is liable if anything goes wrong? Who can help in an emergency? Whose reputation is on the line? Is the perceived “saving” worth the risk, not to mention the hours of extra work you have to add to your busy schedule?

Here are seven reasons why it makes sense to use a tour operator:

1. Is It Really Cheaper to Organise Your Own Tour?

The obvious answer may appear to be “yes”. Tour operators have a living to make so don’t work free of charge & this is a cost it would seem that you can save if you make your own arrangements. Tour operators have, however, built up good relationships with suppliers over many years so invariably get better rates than someone who makes a booking once or twice a year. In the same way that you may get a lower group price for your hotel than an individual can obtain, a tour operator will almost certainly get a significant discount on the rate you will be charged because they will bring the hotel more income with multiple group bookings during the year. When all the other savings they make are taken into account are you really saving that much – if anything - for all your extra work? This is particularly the case the longer the duration of your tour.

2. The Exchange Rate

Another factor to consider is the current volatility of the exchange rate. Tour operators can buy foreign currency in advance (forward buying) which fixes the price you pay rather than leaving you in a position where meals, venues & overseas hotel bills turn out to cost much more than you anticipated if you pay just before your departure date or on the day of your visit.

3. Legal Protection

In the event that something goes wrong, reputable tour operators are covered by public liability insurance of up to £10 million as a condition of trading legally. The responsibility is shifted from yourself & the school to the operator. Not something teachers often think about when organising their own tour in a litigious environment. This is a point worth remembering when persuading the Head or Leadership Team about the value of allowing you to take a group out of school in the first place.

4. Financial Protection

Tour Operators are subject to the Package Travel Regulations which make it a legal requirement for them to offer guarantees with regard to any monies paid to them. In the unlikely event that they or any supplier involved goes out of business your money is protected. This kind of security is not available if you organise the tour yourself. Book with companies that are members of trade associations such as ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) or AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) both of which insist that their members provide financial protection either by way of a Bond or through a Financial Failure Insurance Scheme. Some companies operate a trust account to protect your money. This method is still legal but not favoured as a protection option where trade associations are concerned.

5. Save Valuable Time

You could spend your lunch hours, evenings & weekends arranging your own tour but do you really want the planning to consume all your spare time & dominate your thoughts? Why not delegate some of the tasks to people who do this full-time? Using a tour operator will significantly reduce your workload especially when it comes to safety & risk assessment as well as promoting your tour.

Companies which are members of the School Travel Forum (STF) have very detailed Safety Management Systems in place which are externally audited by Health & Safety specialists on an annual basis. They can provide you with the information you will need to complete risk assessments on accommodation & ferries without you having to source the information yourself. If you need any assistance with an emergency when on tour they can also provide 24-hour support to help resolve problems as quickly as possible.

They can also price the tour up for you rather than you have to do it yourself & handle all the correspondence with suppliers that you would otherwise have to do as well.

They can also offer you some tried & tested tips on promoting your tour, provide ready-made posters to raise awareness of the trip around the school & even provide a PowerPoint presentation for your Parents’ Evening.

6. Access to Tour Guides & Additional Learning Materials

Some teachers who know the locations they wish to visit quite well may be able to act as their own guide but for those who are unfamiliar with their destination, using a tour operator who can supply a specialist guide will really help staff & pupils get the most from their visit especially if the guide has a background in teaching.

It’s always worth reading the “About Us” section on a tour operator’s website to see if the owner(s) have teaching experience. This can be a good indicator of the relevance & quality of their study materials. You may not use everything they can supply but you might want to incorporate some of their ideas or worksheets into your own work books.

Always look for operators who hold the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge which is awarded to those companies that meet Quality Standards as far as their study materials & commitment to achieving learning objectives are concerned

7. Stay in Control

Good companies pride themselves on good customer service. Often, this is part of what makes them good in the first place. A big part of the process is about meeting your wishes & fulfilling your requirements as far as the tour is concerned. The tour operator may make suggestions for your consideration but you should always have the last word whether that is about what you want to include in the itinerary, using your preferred coach operator or staying at your favourite hotel or youth hostel – provided, of course, that the coach company hasn’t gone out of business & the hotel meets the required safety standards!

You could check yourself or we could do that for you. It’s your choice.

For further information on all our school trips visit http://www.schooltours.co.uk/ or contact our friendly team on 0800 801 560.

Author: Ian Matthews, Managing Director of Galina International Study Tours Ltd & a former Head of History.

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  • Statement from ABTA & STF

     

    STF           ABTA logo 1

    We are dedicated to bringing you the latest news and updates regarding travel. 

    Please find below a joint statement from the STF and ABTA as of March 13th 2020. Our current understanding of the situation regarding school trips is as follows:

    • The government has advised schools that they should not undertake international school trips at this stage. This is due to concerns that the schools would face significant challenges in making arrangements to ensure children’s welfare should adult supervisors or children be required to self-isolate. Schools will decide how to act upon this advice. If schools do cancel their trips, normal cancellation terms will apply.
    • Schools should contact either their own general insurers or the Department for Education as they may have some financial cover in place for this scenario. This is one of the areas we are seeking clarity on urgently, so we will update again as soon as we have more info.
    • The Government is not advising schools to stop trips within the UK so schools can proceed as planned if they wish. The Government is advising schools to refresh their risk assessments.Customers wanting to cancel must do so at their own cost, normal cancellation charges apply.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/covid-19-travel-guidance-for-the-education-sector

    Written on Friday, 13 March 2020 15:35
  • Brexit FAQ's

    Last edited 30.01.2020

     

    We now know that the UK will leave the EU at 23h00 (GMT) on 31 January 2020. Following Brexit we will enter a transition period which will run, at least, until the end of December 2020. During the transition period everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel as you do now.

    We will continue to monitor the information provided by travel industry experts, organisations like ABTA and the UK Government and pick out what we believe is relevant for you.

     

    Common questions about travel after 31 January 2020

     

    Will flights still operate?

    Yes. During the transition period, everything will stay the same until the end of December 2020 and flights will continue as normal. 

     

    Will my coach journey still operate?

    Coaches will still be able to travel to, from and around EU countries as usual. 

     

    Will trains from the UK to the EU still operate?

    Trains from the UK to the EU will continue to operate as usual. 

     

    Will we have to show our passports at each border?

    We do advise you keep passports handy when travelling throughout Europe, as you may be required to prove your right to travel at border crossings or security checkpoints.

    You can always check on https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out more about visa restrictions for your destination.

     

    Will I need a new passport?

    Valid passports can still be used. You do not need to have six months left on your passport to travel to the EU. Your passport does however need to be valid for the whole of your trip. 

    If you are looking to travel to Europe from 1 January 2021, you will need your passport to both:

    • have at least 6 months left
    • be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)

    If you do not renew it, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

    If you would like to know more take a look at the latest Government advice.

     

    Will I still be able to use a collective passport?

    Whilst the position as to the validity of collective passports for travel to the EU has not changed, if you are able to arrange for each traveller to have an individual passport which has the requisite validity, this may help to forestall any issues which might arise.

     

    Will I need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit?

    No. UK travellers will not need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit. 

     

    European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance

    The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country. UK registered EHICs will still be valid throughout 2020.

    ABTA has always advised when travelling to the EU and beyond, that it is important you take out travel insurance. Our tour price includes comprehensive travel insurance as standard. So, unless you advise us that your school or college has its own travel insurance and you wish to decline our insurance, you will automatically have insurance cover with us.

    For more information on our insurance go to:

    Galina Insurance Policy

    Further advice on travel insurance can be found at https://www.abta.com/travelinsurance

     

    Will my tour price change?

    If you have an existing booking with Next Generation Travel group brand:

    We have placed forward contracts for foreign currency so fluctuations in the exchange rate are highly unlikely to affect the price of your tour.

    Please note however that, if there is a change in legislation that will affect your overall tour price and which is out of our control, eg visa costs, surcharges, this cost would be passed on to you.

    As is always our policy at Next Generation Travel we will do our best to do the right thing to work with you to ensure your trip would continue.

     

    If you have not yet booked your tour:

    Due to our forward buying policy for foreign currency, we will work with you to ensure there is no or a low impact on pricing. The travel industry is reporting that the sensible advice is to book now to secure your booking on current currency rates.

     

    What is the law on price changes?

    If there are increases in transportation costs, taxes or fees chargeable for services post Brexit, the law says that package holiday providers, like Next Generation Travel, are permitted to increase their prices. However, we are pleased to confirm that there would be no change within 20 days of your departure and we would cover the first 2% of any price increase. In the unlikely circumstances that prices were to increase by more than 2% you may be asked to pay an additional fee however where the price increase is 10% or higher, you have the right to cancel and receive a full refund of all monies paid, except for any amendment charges.

     

    Will overall prices go up in the future?

    Tour prices in the future will always be open to normal market and economic fluctuations such as currency and service prices. Our foreign currency forward buying policy means we always look to protect customers from the impact of currency fluctuationsHowever, overall tour prices may in the future be affected by changes in legislation such as visa costs, surcharges etc. or increased cost in services such as flights or ferry crossings.

    At Next Generation Travel our experienced staff will always provide you with a tour price which is based either on the actual current rates for your service or estimated rates which are based on our extensive knowledge of the travel and industry. We will always communicate any price changes as they are given to us and have an open and honest pricing policy, which will ensure you should have no surprises later on.

    Data roaming

    Under EU rules, the cost of making calls, sending messages or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same in the UK and this will continue after 31 January 2020. 

     

     
    ABTA
     
    Brexit Advice for Travellers
     
    Passport Office
     
    Check A Passport – to see if your passport is valid for your destination
    Passport Office FAQs
     
    Industry Articles
     
    What Does Brexit Mean for Travellers
    How Will Brexit Affect Your Holiday
     

     

    Written on Tuesday, 24 September 2019 14:44
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