Religious Planning Timeline: 6 Months Prior to Travel
You are creeping closer to your departure date and you can feel excitement building among your group members. By now you should have the hard deadlines and details figured out, brochures mailed and the itineraries created and booked. Your eager and loyal travelers should be signed up by now as well.
One thing to not let yourself get hung up on is the slow revenue return at this point in the game. Don’t get discouraged if payments come in slowly. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Attempt to get verbal commitments from those still waiting to make a deposit, so you can keep a number in your head of spots to fill. Setting a solid date for potential travelers to sign up by will encourage them to make their decision in a timely manner. Early booking discounts will also help speed up this process.
If a passport or visa will be required for this trip, now is the time to apply for one. Make sure you and your traveler’s passports will be valid three to six months past the return date. Many destinations require a certain period of validity for a fixed time after you return. For additional information, talk to your travel agent or tour operator. Remember, passports are now needed to get into Canada and Mexico.
On the promotions side of things, start contacting those who have shown interest but have not committed yet. A phone call from the leader will make them feel important and wanted on the trip, so be sure to add that personal touch to your calls. This will help as you grow the group and will lead to long tourism relationships.
Keep posting the newsletters and informing the group of trip news. This will keep everyone on the same page and stir excitement within the group. If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, continue to update it with relevant information and add some interesting nuggets about the destination you’ll be visiting.
Utilize your committed travelers to encourage other members of the organization to sign up for the trip. Word of mouth is a powerful tool for promoting your trip, use it when you can. If your budget allows, offer an incentive for referrals. For example offer a coffee shop gift card or a special perk or discount on the trip for signing someone up.
Finally, stay in touch with everyone you will be working with during at your destination. Communication is key to building a relationship with your on-site contacts. By the end of this trip, you will have made some great friends in the industry. This will transfer over to your group and in turn, strengthen your reputation as a travel planner.