Group Leader Tips

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minneapolis holy land tour planning tips for the group travel leader

Helping make you and your group successful

Planning, marketing and escorting travel groups can be both satisfying and rewarding. Faith Travel Experts recommends the following Minneapolis Holy Land tour planning tips for the group travel leader. These tips are designed to help you through the process of creating a special faith travel experience for members of your church or religious group.

 

Before Consulting a Travel Planner

  • While you may have several reasons for sponsoring or hosting a group trip for your church or organization, establish an overall primary objective with which prospective travelers can identify.
  • Recognize the opinion leaders within your congregation, who will likely become strong proponents for a group travel experience and among the first people to join the travel group. Solicit their ideas regarding the itinerary, organizational goals, best travel dates and other trip details. They likely will become an important influence encouraging others to join your trip.
  • Depending upon the complexity of the itinerary, you should be planning at least 12 months in advance of your proposed departure date, and possibly earlier for a group cruise. In some cases, when the group is fully constituted and ready to make their reservations, a shorter window before departure may be appropriate. Yet, always allow enough time for participants to work the cost of the trip into their budgets.

 

Make Sure you have the right travel Professional

  • Planning a group trip is a complex process best handled in concert with a travel professional; it’s not a do-it-yourself project. We recommend soliciting two or more proposals from travel agents or tour operators to help you feel confident you have the best person for the job.
  • The travel professionals you contact should be more interested in discovering information about your group needs and travel objectives rather than in selling travel. If you get a quick travel recommendation or sales pitch in your first conversation, look elsewhere for a genuine travel partner focused on your group’s needs and desires. You should also decide whether you prefer a pre-packaged tour or a tour design specifically for your travel group.
  • Items to discuss with the travel expert include your goals for the trip, the approximate group size, a preliminary itinerary that supports your objective, a budget range and the travel items that you and your fellow travelers might wish to be included in the travel package, including whether the package will include a fundraising component.
  • Always include travel-medical insurance in the package, or at least make it available as an optional item. A single person with a medical issue or other emergency without insurance can disrupt the trip for everyone in your group.
  • Expect a preliminary proposal for your review and adjustments before receiving a final proposal or letter of agreement. Such agreement should include every detail of the trip including a marketing plan, the responsibilities of the travel planner and the group’s responsibilities. You also should determine whether you desire a group escort to handle the travel details during the journey. This process will require two or more meetings with the travel planner.

 

Implementing Your Marketing Plan

  • Many of your travel group prospects will require five to seven touch points before they are ready to sign-on. This means that you will need to utilize all possible channels of communication, including live presentations, posters, newsletter articles and possibly a webinar hosted by the travel professional. Be prepared to answer questions from prospects.
  • Be sure your agreement or contract includes who will prepare promotional materials and make live presentations.
  • If the trip itinerary is a Holy Land or Bible tour, a Sacred Pilgrimage or historical itinerary, consider offering a series of Bible Study sessions in advance of the trip to relate the itinerary to the Scriptures, prepare participants better for the journey and enhance the overall experience.
  • Encourage people who book into the trip early to invite other family members and friends to join the group for fun and fellowship.
  • Emphasize that the group trip will be a “vacation with a purpose” with time for relaxation, sightseeing and exploring on your own.
  • It will be important to remind people about the experience and objective ahead even after they have registered for the trip to build excitement and anticipation. Other people will want to join your group if you create a “buzz” about the trip.

[Note: Most people prefer travel in the range of 9 to 15 days including travel days on international trips; they also desire multiple nights in more than one location to minimize packing and unpacking; and they do not want to fill every day with 12 hours of travel from place to place.]

 

Getting Ready to Go

  • If the group is not escorted by a representative of the travel professional, you as the group leader will need a detailed itinerary from door-to-door with names and contact information for each city you will be visiting.
  • While each participant will need much less information, they also will require trip details, information about what to pack and contact information to leave with family members back home. In addition, they need to know about required visas, passports and other travel documentation well in advance. Tour operators will not be responsible for guests denied travel due to their improper documentation.
  • A complete guest manifest with information about each traveler should be provided to the travel partner at least 70 days prior to departure on international trips.

 

You and Your Travel Professional

  • Your relationship with the travel professional should be a partnership built on open communication and trust. The travel partner you select should be someone who will always put the best interest of your group ahead of their own.

Leading a group of 30 to 40 people to a foreign land can be a stressful assignment. Yet, with the right travel partner and a sound travel plan, you can relax and enjoy the journey yourself.

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN HOLY LAND GROUP TRAVEL LEADER

Organizing Your Travel

Faith Travel Experts will partner with you to create a custom designed faith travel experience to enrich the faith of your group. As the Minneapolis, MN Holy Land group travel leader, there are a few things to be thinking about as you begin to plan your trip. 

1) Initial considerations

When it comes to travel planning, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land or other faith sites is like any other trip. As a group leader, it is important to consider your interests, potential dates and your budget before starting your planning. The best way to launch into planning is to start a conversation with us so we can guide you through our initial planning questions and process.

As your organization’s group leader, it is important to think through three areas before starting the planning process.

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2) interests

The final destination of your faith travel will depend on your group’s theology and interests. For example, we will plan our Holy Land tours differently for Catholic and Evangelical pilgrimages. Your group may desire to plan a tour of Biblical sites from the Old Testament, discovering the places of the New Testament or visiting churches and shrines particular to your faith. Several of our groups have experienced the Holy Land up close and personal by worshipping and visiting with local Christians, and building in some leisure time to their pilgrimage. It’s important to start with what your group wants to experience during your faith travel.

3) travel dates

Timing can be one of the most important factors in planning your pilgrimage. Last minute planning can become very costly and create a rushed pilgrimage with throngs of other pilgrims. When you plan your dates in advance, you ensure a comfortable and affordable pilgrimage.

Major Christian holidays and Jewish feast days, most of which occur in spring and autumn, are among the busiest when visiting the Holy Land. If you wish to travel during these times, your flight, hotel and guide services will become more costly. During Easter and Passover, you will want to start planning at least one year in advance to ensure reservations.

The Holy Land climate is very close to the weather you would experience in Texas. When traveling in the spring, summer and early fall, you can expect hot and dry weather. Late fall, winter and early spring tends to be wet and cold. The  Holy Land peak travel seasons tend to be in spring and fall. Winter and summer travel can be ideal with the most competitive prices, if your group is willing to handle very hot, or very cold weather.

4) travel budget

The cost of your faith travel experience will depend on both interests and timing. Other factors that determine the cost of your pilgrimage will be your accommodations, length of stay, and the number of travelers in your group. In general, the larger the group, the lower the price. Larger groups enable us to negotiate with our suppliers and service providers for a better price.

Your local accommodations can range from three-star to five star lodging. Along with your tour, parks and museums will have entrance fees while churches are almost always free. Identifying the types of sites you wish to visit will help us determine your final price.

Faith Travel Experts will work with you to custom design a pilgrimage that meets your group’s unique needs. Let’s start your faith travel conversation to see how we can partner with you for the travel experience of a lifetime.

Planning Your Travel

When you’re designing a faith travel experience, it’s important to understand the expectations and guidelines. We have some established practices and policies to help make your trip planning seamless. Depending on your unique needs, certain amendments and exceptions may be made for unique pilgrimages. If needed, we will detail these amendments in writing in your program documents.  

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airlines & itineraries

Airfare to and from your destination will be booked in economy class as non-refundable and non–amendable tickets for groups flying together. Please note that airlines finalize their international flight schedule days prior to your departure, meaning possible last minute changes for your group. If you decide to book your domestic flight on your own, you may need to adjust your domestic flights to meet your international connection. Any change fees incurred by this adjustment would be at your group’s expense. We will be unable to reimburse your group for any expenses for these occurrences. If you wish to make your own flight arrangements we recommend purchasing tickets that can be amended and refunded. Due to the changing air travel industry, we do not guarantee the most direct routing to your final destination. Should your flight schedules change, we reserve the right to adjust (lengthen or shorten) your itinerary. Changing flight schedules may require additional overnights in hotels and we will charge you at normal hotel rates. Land only packages will not include airport-hotel transfers.

passports

Each of your group participants will need a US passport valid for six months beyond the duration of stay (including any additional travel after your pilgrimage). For non-US passport holders, please contact Faith Travel Experts for more information.

 

deposits

Because each of our pilgrimages is unique and custom designed for your group, we may rely on the use of different travel suppliers. We do not have a standard deposit requirement for all pilgrimages, but will advise you of your specific deposit requirements in writing in your program documents.

 

baggage

Each traveler is allowed to bring one (1) checked bag, with a  maximum weight of 50 lbs, and maximum combined dimensions of 62 inches. Also, your airline will permit one (1) carry on bag with maximum dimensions of 8”X12”X20”. Luggage will be the responsibility of each passenger and the airlines. For lost luggage, the passenger will be responsible for notifying the airline directly. Once your airline is booked, you can check with your carrier for carry-on luggage rules and regulations. 

tipping

Your tour cost will not include tipping to your local guides, and other service providers. We recommend tipping your tour guide and bus driver. Typical tipping is $6 per person per day for your guide and $4 per person per day for your bus driver. Hotel staff tips typically receive $1 per person. 

payment 

Payment can be made to Faith Travel Experts (FTE). We accept Checks and most major Credit Cards.

Unless otherwise specified, your package price will include the following:

  1. Meet & assist at destination airport upon arrivals and departures.
  2. Ground transportation between the airport and your hotel.
  3. Double occupancy accommodation with breakfast & dinner.
  4. Sightseeing in a modern air conditioned private bus.
  5. English speaking government licensed Christian guides on duty.
  6. Entrance fees to places of interest  on tour itinerary.
  7. Round Trip airfare.

Unless otherwise specified, your package price does NOT include the following:

  1. Lunches and drinks 
  2. Tips for hotels, guide and bus driver 
  3. Travel insurance 
  4. Personal expenses
 
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