How to Lead the Meeting
Read through our tips and talk to your Program Consultant to review your customized PowerPoint presentation, and you’ll be well on your way to leading a successful meeting and recruiting your group!
Prepare the Room
Well before anyone is due to arrive, ensure your computer and projector are working well. We’d hate for a technological snafu to add stress or disrupt your meeting’s success. You will also want to have any promotional materials you have ready to be distributed. Make the room easy to find—put up directional signs so people can find the way. Be clear on how people will get in to the building—there’s nothing worse than your guests being stuck outside because the doors are locked! You might want to recruit one of your students to welcome people at the door and show them to the meeting room.
Distribute a sign-in sheet for all attendees. It will be helpful to know who attended and have easy access to their contact information.
Generate an atmosphere of travel excitement by having these photos and songs play as people are wandering in.
Leading the Meeting
You will receive a customized PowerPoint presentation that will take you slide by slide through our recommended presentation. Take some time to review the presentation thoroughly and really come to get to know your itinerary. Your comfort here is key. Schedule a call with your program consultant to review the presentation in detail.
Draw on your own experience and your own passion for travel to let parents know why you are qualified to run the trip. Include testimonials from past travelers, or better yet, invite past travelers to attend and speak to their experience. Make sure you highlight the goals of the trip, the educational objectives and how free time is going to be used. Try and anticipate the sort of questions that parents might ask. They are likely to ask you about the less exciting aspects of the trip—such as insurance—but these details are important to parents, so read through the relevant material from ACIS so that you feel confident when answering questions.
Make the meeting as fun, creative and inspiring as possible. Theme everything to your trip—provide food from the country you’re planning to visit, play music, use our destination slideshows as people arrive. Put up decorations—flags, posters, photos—to really get people excited about your destination. Use your imagination!
We know you’ll do a great job of showing parents why an overseas trip is such an important experience for their child, so you should make it as easy as possible for people to register for the trip, ideally right there and then on the night of your meeting. If you have access to computers (such as a school computer lab), switch them on before the meeting and load up the registration page.
Once the meeting has happened, people should be pretty close to making up their minds, so give people a registration deadline that’s not too far in the future, and tell them you’re signing people up on a first come, first served basis. Emphasize the benefits of early registration—it reduces the cost, allows your group to get their own bus and gives more time for fundraising and arranging payment. This will hopefully give people the last little push they need to sign their child up for a trip of a lifetime!
What NOT to Do
There are a couple of things you want to avoid during your meeting. Parents are naturally concerned about their child’s safety and will probably ask lots of ‘What if..?’ type questions. Try not to get too bogged down with discussing ‘What If’ scenarios. All you need to do is reassure parents that ACIS is there to support their child at every turn, and that we will be available 24/7 to help with any issues. You might want to explain that ACIS has a proven track record, so you’ll certainly be in safe hands!
Don’t spend too much time talking about the price. Parents can suffer with ‘sticker shock’; naturally you should be honest about the price, but don’t dwell on it. Present the price with confidence, justify it and move on. If you believe the price is good value, parents will follow your lead.
There are bound to be lots of questions, and you may not have the answer for everything. If you don’t know the answer, it’s OK to say that. Don’t make up any answers—tell parents that you can find out and let them know later.
Prepare yourself to answer the most frequently asked questions. Remember, ACIS has been leading tours for over 40 years and has an outstanding reputation. The students will be safe, they’ll have the time of their lives and their parents will be grateful.
1. Will our kids be safe?
Safety is always priority number one at ACIS. We monitor world situations and travel alerts constantly to ensure we’re taking into account any risks and pro-actively optimizing every on-tour experience for safety. Our network of overseas offices gives us on-the-ground support and quick response capability in the event of an unforeseen event. Our duty-officer system operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that there’s never a time when an emergency response is out of reach from a trained travel professional. Our Tour Managers are also available day and night to respond to any situation as it arises and coordinate the response with the rest of our overseas team.
While we can’t control everything that might happen while your kids are on tour, we can guarantee we’ll be prepared to respond to any situation that might transpire and direct the tour away from any predictable danger as it arises. Additionally, all travelers are offered a re-routed itinerary at no charge that takes effect in the event that the US State Department issues an official Travel Warning following a terrorist attack against US interests in a country to be visited on an upcoming trip. For more information about safety and security, please refer to our parent handout on Safety and Security.
2. How much spending money will they need?
Though our programs are highly inclusive, a good rule of thumb is to bring $50 USD a day as spending money. This allows for lunch (unless specifically included on tour), snacks, soft drinks, souvenirs, free-time activities, optional excursions not already included in your itinerary and local transportation during your free time.
3. What will students do during “free time,” and will an adult be with them or will they be on their own?
“Free time” on an ACIS tour is simply time without a pre-arranged activity. Contrary to parents’ worst fears, it does not mean students are free to run around by themselves. Oftentimes, Tour Managers will use the time to lead walking tours of city neighborhoods or arrange visits to museums not included in the itinerary, but of particular interest to the group. And of course, free time is wonderful for souvenir shopping, gelato tasting, practicing language skills and simply acting like a local.
Our behavior guidelines require that students never go off on their own. They must stay in small groups, tell their group leader where they are going and carry the name of their hotel or homestay address with them. Our ACIS App is great for helping students safely navigate the city and easily make their way back to the meeting spot.
4. How much is the extra insurance, and which one is best for me?
For your peace of mind, ACIS offers two levels of additional protection coverage beyond the Basic Plan which is included for all participants: Ultimate and Ultimate-Plus. We recommend participants upgrade to one of these plans which was designed specifically to meet our travelers’ needs and offers enhanced on-tour coverage plus the ability to cancel for any reason and receive a full refund.
Our Ultimate-Plus Protection Plan costs $45/day ($100 surcharge for participants age 66+), our Ultimate Plan costs $30/day ($100 surcharge for participants age 66+). Learn more about our protection plan options.
5. What if my child gets sick?
If your child becomes sick or injured while on tour, our overseas staff will see to it that they receive the medical care they need. We will also ensure that any family members back home are made aware of the situation every step of the way. An adult chaperone or ACIS staff member will stay with any hospitalized student throughout their stay.
6. What is the rooming situation?
Students are organized into rooms based off input from the group leader, typically two to three kids to one room. If your group is sharing a bus with another school group, it is possible that some rooms may be mixed between groups to make rooming numbers work.
7. How many chaperones will be on the trip? How are they trained?
Typically, ACIS tours include one adult chaperone for every six students. All Group Leaders receive extensive coaching from their ACIS Program Consultant as well as an Overseas Manual that covers the finer points of traveling with students. First-time ACIS Group Leaders are invited to an overseas training weekend organized by ACIS the January before their first trip, where they’re trained on how to deal with situations as they arise while on tour and how to utilize the ACIS overseas infrastructure. Chaperones are most commonly teachers from the Group Leader’s school or parents of kids on the trip.
8. How can I communicate with my child while overseas?
While most students will not have international data plans, it is still easy to check in with your kids while on tour through social media and apps like Whatsapp. Whatsapp is a Wi-Fi-reliant mobile app that will allow you to call and message your child when they have internet access at their hotels and perhaps other locations during the day. We encourage parents not to worry— they will be contacted if necessary, but chances are, your student is just busy exploring the world!
9. Why does ACIS charge more than other companies?
ACIS is not a budget travel company. We offer the best product on the market guaranteed, so our prices are often more than our competition. Along with that higher price comes an exceptional travel experience. Where specifically does that extra cost go? Nicer, more centrally located hotels which provide more touring hours per day, higher-quality meals, more activities included as part of the tour (as opposed to pay-as-you-go), superior tour managers who handle all logistics and educational commentary and a more customized travel experience for your group.