Finding the Right Religious Travel Provider
Selecting the correct tour provider is the most important decision you will make when planning your faith-based trip. The right tour operator will make your group’s dream a reality, ensure plans flow smoothly and provide a support network of industry expertise you wouldn’t have access to yourself.
A top priority of these trips is for people to want to sign up for the next trip before they unpack their luggage. You want to boost the moral of the organization with a trip they won’t ever forget. The right travel provider will help you reach this goal. But depending on the type of trip you want to take, finding the right tour provider will take some effort on your part.
Tour Provider Specialization
Once you know where and why you want to travel, you should look for a tour provider who specializes in your destination, denomination or unique program. The key to a successful trip is finding a tour operator who is experienced in the type of trip you are taking. Do some research to find out which tour operators best fit your specifications.
Some tour operators have strength in the Catholic denomination while others have strong ties to the Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist communities. Mission trips are a specialty of several tour operators, while others are more adept with travel ministries.
Budgeting Your Trip
Set your budget before you call travel providers for quotes. You want the operator to know your price range so you can customize the trip that fits your budget. Have an idea of what your travelers can afford, and the price of your trip should reflect that.
Make a wish list of destinations, attractions and events you would like to include in your itinerary. Give them a list of what you would like to see and do and let them know you are seeking alternative quotes. The tour operator’s pricing should be clear to indicate exactly what you are paying for. Make sure to get everything in writing!
Communicate with the Travel Provider
Once you have selected a tour operator for your trip, communication will be a key factor in determining how everything else will play out. Keep an open channel of dialogue between you, the travel provider and your planning committee to ensure you cover all the bases on the budget and pricing of the trip in advance of setting the final price.
Be sure to let the tour operator know about all your plans, wishes and aspirations for the trip, to ensure they are on the same page as you. Their job is to customize your trip to your liking and budget, so let them know what your expectations are early on in the process.
Travel providers will always include a complementary trip or reduced rate for a member of the congregation. Be prepared to negotiate about this, since it could have a large impact on your trip’s price.
You can use these comp trips for a number of things. You can raffle it off as a fundraiser for the trip, the church or a local charity or mission. Taking the price of the free or discounted trip from everyone else’s bill will bring down the price for everyone participating. It could be used to bring along a church leader, director or missionary family who otherwise could not go. Or you could award it to an outstanding member of the church, to recognize them for all their efforts over the years.
Who’s in Charge?
Be sure to be clear about who is in charge of organizing this trip. Will the senior pastor be your contact person or will the church office handle the phone calls and emails? Should you recruit a volunteer from the church to be a point person or will everyone report back to you?
The tour operator should be easy to work with and open to your thoughts and requests. Remember, you are paying them, and you are the one organizing this trip. Again, communication plays a vital part in planning your religious trip. Be sure to choose a travel provider that will be open to your ideas and communicates well with you and your committee.
When choosing the correct travel provider, you will have to put in a lot of your own effort. It isn’t as simple as paying a flat fee and have the work done for you. Communication will be your most important tool and you will have to plan, estimate, negotiate and organize much of the trip yourself before choosing a provider. Look for a tour operator that will fit those specific plans. If you pick the right tour operator, they will prove to be a strong travel partner to have for this trip, and your future trips to come.
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