Many schools and universities eagerly anticipate annual sports tours and music concerts when they return to play old rivals and compete in competitions. For the elite, this may mean travelling abroad, which is an exciting prospect that can also be very costly. To cushion the blow of such expenditure, educational establishments are increasingly looking for cost-saving methods to help reduce the total expense of trips and stretch tightly assigned budgets.
Once locations and numbers have been confirmed, advanced bookings should be made. This is applicable for many areas of a trip, including the hotel, transport to the airport and while away, and restaurant reservations. It can be an efficient way of securing space and seats for large parties, while benefiting from early savings and negotiating group costs.
When booking accommodation in advance, it is worthwhile exploring available packages and determining whether they include set meals, use of facilities or the free hire of function and practice rooms. If packages are not available, it is always worth suggesting a tailor-made bundle that specifically suits the organisation’s requirements. Stretching budgets further often includes asking for discounts and suggesting a price in return for early confirmation of custom.
Booking plane tickets and airport transfers in advance can also be worthwhile, especially when expecting to travel in large groups with equipment. Airport transfers and dedicated transport whilst touring are arguably the biggest concerns and planning ahead is essential. Hiring a vehicle with a chauffeur is often popular, but if the group is small, renting a minibus and appointing a dedicated, fully insured driver from the group can save on costs. Understand the type of transport required for the trip, including the terrain that needs to be crossed, and how frequently it is expected to be used, in case the hire contract has a mileage restriction.
Picking up the phone to speak to somebody is always the best way to ensure the company can provide the right service, which could include the quick provision of a replacement vehicle in the unlikely case of an accident or breakdown – the team or orchestra wouldn’t want to miss the event it has travelled hundreds of miles to attend due to a punctured tyre or blown engine. Again, be cheeky and ask if the company offers special rates for educational establishments.
Hire Equipment or Send it Ahead
For the majority of musical tours, travelling with a band’s personal instruments is essential and can often become a worry for schools, particularly when flying or sailing abroad for concerts and competitions. While smaller instruments like flutes and violins are ideal to carry as hand luggage, larger items such as drums and tubas can be difficult to manoeuver and can pose complications for transportation. Therefore, certain equipment should be hired at the destination, or the hosting venue may be able to offer use of the instruments at no cost. Bands choosing to hire instruments ahead of their trip should actively encourage their musicians to become familiar with hired equipment before performances to ensure they can play them with confidence.
The excess or heavy baggage fees that airlines charge are notorious for being high, so if taking equipment abroad is a must, it’s worth comparing costs with those of a luggage shipping company. Such services offer fast collection and door-to-door delivery, removing a lot of the stress that comes with travelling. Some sports teams could also benefit from sending heavy or cumbersome equipment ahead of travel, such as shipping hockey sticks or cricket kit bags, so they are safe in the knowledge that it will all be there waiting for them upon arrival.
Have Next Year’s Trip in Mind
Sporting and musical events are often held in the same location each year or rotate between set hosts. This provides schools and universities with unique opportunities to build strong, lasting relationships with transport companies, airlines and hotel managers, who in turn often show their appreciation for repeat custom by offering discounts and other return incentives. Travelling back to the same destination each year also presents an opportunity for teachers to become familiar with foreign locations, meaning they can be tour director as well as chaperone, saving money on a hiring a guide. This is also when places known to the locals are discovered and expensive tourist traps can be avoided. Building contacts or teaming up with other educational establishments can also assist with future accommodation, meals out and extracurricular activities, and can effectively reduce the overall costs of trips while also providing a truly authentic stay.
Planning is essential to any successful trip and is often where the key savings can be found. Whether travelling to the other side of the county or the other side of the world, researching and booking in advance can help to capitalise on savings. Being open minded to hiring equipment or using specialist student shipping companies that are familiar with the requirements of schools and universities can not only save money, but can also help students to make the most of trips without the worry of transporting equipment and heavy instruments. Lastly, speaking to people and making connections at the destination can make next year’s trip even more cost-effective, fun and hassle free. The guest writer is Adam Ewart, founder of sendmybag.com, a popular shipping companies choice for students and travellers.