Planning a group study abroad trip can seem like a monumental task, but with AmeriSpan’s expert guidance, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, leading a group abroad can be a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. Follow the 10 steps outlined below to ensure group success. Check out the timeline below for a handy reference tool.
1. Start Early
To get a successful start, we recommend leaders begin planning 6-8 months before traveling. This gives both the group leaders and AmeriSpan time to get every detail perfect. This also allows participants and parents enough time to make decisions, apply for passports, and raise money for the trip.
However, we have the capability to organize a group trip in a very short period of time as little as 3-4 weeks before you go, especially when you choose an AmeriSpan “Ready Made” group program or leading a group to participate in any of our other programs that are available to individuals such as Teenager, Language Immersion, Fun, Business & Professional, Medical Spanish, Volunteer or College Study Abroad.
2. Pick Your Dates
Try and choose dates that will fit into most people's schedule. Ask administrators, participants, and parents if there are dates that conflict with school activities, holidays, exams or other obligations that might hold back participants. If you find your dates will not work out, please inform AmeriSpan so we can help you plan for alternate dates.
3. Choose Location(s)
Location, Location, Location! This is what sells participants and parents. Make sure to choose a location that will appeal to broad spectrum of participants, but also will allow you as the leader to accomplish your trip objectives. If leading a younger group, keep in mind the safety concerns of parents as well.
4. Outline Objectives & Set Expectations
Consider what you want to accomplish on this trip and what you want participants to gain. How can these goals be achieved? Consider how classes, activities, lodging, lectures, and excursions will impact your overall purpose. Think about who will participate and make sure the objectives are achievable within their limits.
It is important that everyone involved have a clear set of realistic expectations for the program. As a leader, you must be realistic it what your participants can do in a given time. Be careful not too plan too much. Also, remember AmeriSpan has its limitations as well. We will work our best to get you what you want, but there are certain things beyond our control. Students must also understand what is expected from them. When language classes involved, students must be aware this is a serious academic program. They must attend classes on time and participate fully in classes and activities. There are more appropriate times to have fun with friends.
5. Identify Constraints
Take into consideration anything that could prevent the program from running, and running smoothly. Think of reasons why your school would not allow the program. What would hold back parents from signing up their children? Know how to quell fears and uncertainties that may come up. If there are organizational requirements, make certain they are included from the start. Also, take into account some participants and their families may have a budget.
6. Get Permission & Estimate Participation
Depending on where you work, you may need permission to organize a group travel program. Get permission before students become involved. Please let AmeriSpan know if there is any documentation that you must provide to your administration.It is important to know how many students will participate in the program. If the group is going to be large, you may want to consider additional leaders or chaperones to assist you. You may need to set a limit to the number traveling. Also, some activities are better suited for groups of different sizes. Figure out what is manageable for your group.
Check out this video from some group participants in Costa Rica:
7. Ask for a Quote
Ask AmeriSpan for a price quote (Get Quote). Be sure to include all the necessary information such as dates, location(s), lodging, age, participation, activities, and any special requests. The more AmeriSpan knows up front, the faster we will be able to prepare your quote. Keep in mind, that if your program is customized, it may take longer to complete the quote. To request a quote for your program fill out our Online Group Request Form.
8. Marketing Plan
Get the word out! Make sure as many people know about the program as possible. By creating a buzz, you will gain more interest. Hold an information session, both for participants and parents. Create marketing materials that have all the key information on them and are visually appealing. Pictures are the great way to capture interest. Use your resources wisely; display posters; put an advertisement in the school newspaper; write an article for the newsletter; hand out flyers after an event; talk at parent-teacher meetings; make constant announcements for all meetings; send emails. Make sure people have materials with all the important details such at the locations, dates, price, and deadlines.
9. Set Deadlines
Set deadlines and be firm. You will want to set the following deadlines: Application & Deposit, Final Payment Date and the last day to cancel with a refund. Make deadline dates earlier than preferred and state that absolutely no exceptions are made. This will provide a sense of urgency to the undecided but will allow a few days of leeway for those who are late.
10. Application Materials and Payments
Be sure all interested participants have an application packet before the deadline. In order to register a group, AmeriSpan needs a completed application and required deposit for each participant. To ensure availability, it is preferred that AmeriSpan receive all applications at least 4 months prior to the program start date. It is best to send the registrations of all group participants at one time to avoid confusion. Final payment for the group is due 6-8 weeks before departure, or by regulation of the airline if AmeriSpan is arranging airfare.
AmeriSpan is here to help! We want your trip to be as successful and beneficial to you and your students as possible. If any questions arise during planning your trip or while you are studying, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Find out more information on our Group Immersion Trips.