Evaluating Educational Travel Services: 5 Things to Consider

When evaluating educational travel services, there any many factors to consider when choosing with whom to travel and ultimately who to trust. While certain factors like price and reputation are the most obvious factors, some other aspects of a trip can play an out-sized role in the over trip experience. For someone going through the process for the first-time, or a veteran group leader who may not know what other options are out there, we’ve compiled a list of 5 Things to Consider when Evaluating Educational Travel Services:

1. Hotel Location

Perhaps the biggest factor in the quality of your tour is the location of your hotel. Staying in a hotel that’s centrally located in the heart of town has a cascading effect throughout the rest of your tour. If your tour provider puts you in a hotel that’s on the outskirts of town, you can expect to spend multiple hours each day to be dedicated to commuting back and forth from the suburbs. This can have an exponentially negative impact on your tour experience since you’ll be forced to commute out to your hotel before dinner, spending valuable time making your way through rush hour traffic, missing out on seeing the city come alive after dark, and being forced to eat at the hotel where the food selection doesn’t differ from what your students could get at home. Nobody comes all the way to Italy to see the Italian highway system in action, eat sub-par hotel food, and play cards in hotel lobbies. Look for a service provider that can place you in a centrally located hotel and plan evening activities for your group to expose your students to the regional cuisine they can’t get back home.

2. Meal Quality and Flexibility to Choose

Food is one of the best ways to experience a foreign culture. Meals are often the most memorable parts of traveling to a foreign country. Before selecting an educational travel provider, make sure to find out exactly what your options will be at meal times. Large tour operators often have contracts with hotel chains that dictate having their passengers take their meals at the hotel which can be difficult to swallow (literally and figuratively) when you’ve come all that way to experience authentic foreign cuisine. At ACIS, we operate our tours on a customizable basis so we can accommodate individual needs of each group. If a group wants to make their own way for a meal, we offer vouchers to go along with a map of a particular area so that groups can find a restaurant they like on their own and offer of the menu.

3. Ability to Customize Your Itinerary

Another consequence of traveling with some of the largest tour providers is they work on a volume basis with all of their overseas providers meaning their ability to customize the on-tour experience is extremely limited. If the ability to customize is important to you, make sure to find out to what extent you can make changes to your itinerary when planning your tour. Changing activities on a given day or adding a visit to a different city can make a huge difference in the overall tour experience. Not every educational travel provider will be willing to accommodate customized changes to the itinerary, so make sure you’re working with a company who’s willing to mix and match to suit your fancy.

4. On-Trip Inclusions

When analyzing and comparing the price of a trip, find out exactly which on-tour activities are included and which ones aren’t. If the sticker price of a tour looks attractive, make sure that’s the price you can count on, and you won’t get stuck having to pay for activities while you’re on tour. Activities like cooking classes, museum visits or even admission to attractions like the Eiffel Tower are all minor expenses that ought to be included in the total cost of the tour. If every day you’ll have to opt-in to activities and pay-as-you-go, that low sticker price won’t look quite as good as you originally thought in the end.

5. Tour Manager Quality

Perhaps the biggest contributor to an educational tour is the tour manager. Before you choose a tour provider, find out exactly how involved the tour manager is in the day-to-day operation of the trip. Are they handling logistics and getting you from place to place? Are they providing educational insight as you go along or simply offering surface level tour guidance? Will they meet you at the airport or will you have to meet up with them at a particular location? Having a tour manager with you on tour from start to finish can be a major differentiator in your overall tour experience. You might even ask for references as to who you’ll be working with in advance.

If you’d like to talk to a reference before considering leading a tour with ACIS, let us know! Click here to fill out our reference request form!

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2 Comments

  • Heather Youinou

    July 14, 07 2016 06:28:42

    Having now been on 2 budget company student tours, I agree whole-heartedly with what ACIS is saying. Your trip is too precious to waste all that time on the bus or spend your evenings in the hotel instead of a European town square. And the money you saved by taking the cheaper trip will be spent during the trip if you want to actually go inside more of the sights that you just drive by with the budget tour.

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