You’ve taken on the task of planning your school’s next trip abroad, and the first step is to gather several quotes for comparison. When faced with a mountain of documents and information, how on earth do you decide?
Start by asking yourself two questions:
- What exactly do you want your students to gain from the trip?
- And how accurately has the tour operator understood and interpreted your requirements?
On receiving a quote, your eye will naturally see past all the detail at first, and head straight to the final price estimate. However, it’s important to remember that the cheapest quote may not necessarily include everything you want your students to see and do on their trip.
Equally, the most expensive quote might contain various luxuries that you’re prepared to compromise on, so looking deeper into the detail is vital. We’d suggested taking the following things into consideration when comparing school trip quotes.
- 1. Are all the quotes based on the same dates of travel?
There are always measures you can take to get more for your money on a trip, and carefully choosing your travel dates is one of them. Certain times of year can be much more expensive for travelling, so if you’re prepared to be flexible, you might just find yourself landing a bargain!
- 2. Do all the quotes include your preferred itinerary content?
Have in-hand a list of the excursions that you absolutely cannot miss on your trip. Whether they’re to cover parts of the curriculum or to give your students some well-earned leisure time, make sure they’re all there on your quotation.
Also, look out for optional extras. Some quotes may appear to include them, but in other cases they might incur an additional cost.
- 3. Travelling by flight? Be aware of these pitfalls
This is the time to think about whether convenience or cost is more of a priority for you. If you’ve been quoted a really good price for flights, have a look at the departure times and location. Sometimes, paying a little extra to travel from an airport closer to home is worth far more than the inconvenience of travelling further and at unfavourable times.
Has everything been accounted for? When quoting for flights that haven’t been released yet, the cost will always be predicted. Does a contingency figure come under the estimated flight cost? You want to avoid having to ask parents for more money as a result of flight prices being higher than originally thought.
Keep an eye out for APD as well – this is an airline tax applicable to passengers aged 16 and over and can make a big difference if you come to realise it wasn’t included in your flight cost.
- 4. What about food and lodgings?
Choosing between bed & breakfast, half board or full board can be tough, especially when different tour operators have included different options, making it a challenge to compare objectively.
At this stage, it wouldn’t hurt to conduct your own research into your destination, or ask your tour operator whether they have any knowledge of how expensive it is to eat out. You might find that looking for somewhere new to buy lunch every day becomes laborious and costly, particularly if choices are limited or you have students with dietary requirements.
The type of accommodation you request can affect the price you receive. A hostel may be cheaper than a hotel, but are you happy to potentially share bathroom facilities with other groups? Is the privacy and comfort of an en-suite worth the additional investment?
- 5. Is your group size realistic?
If you’ve requested a quote based on maximum numbers, you will receive a best case scenario price. The fewer students you have sign up, the more it will cost per person, so try to gauge interest before you start and be honest with yourself about the final numbers you expect.
It’s also recommended that you travel with a teacher to student ratio of 1:10. The cost of free teacher places on trips is covered by the students’ contributions, so consider this when deciding which staff should come along, as more teachers equals more cost!
- 6. How reputable is the tour operator?
When it comes to booking trips abroad, one of the most important aspects is ensuring you’re financially safe. Check whether your quotes are from ABTA and ATOL protected suppliers.
How much experience does the tour operator have? A large company will collectively have many years of practice when it comes to booking tours, and if you’re assigned a dedicated tour co-ordinator, you’ll get an even more personal experience.
Speak to other teachers who have organised school trips before and whether they have any recommendations.
Got questions? Our team are ready to help!