Just as we are committed to working with exceptional suppliers and developing itineraries to match teachers’ needs, we’re just as enthusiastic about ACIS Tour Managers and the value they bring to the tour. We know how impactful a tour manager can be for the group, serving as a daily organizer, trivia whiz, stand-up comic, geography coach, and that crucial connection to the ACIS team back home. Many Group Leaders go on to request the same tour manager for future travel and lifelong friendships have been created in the process.
It all starts with a team commitment to providing the best possible educational travel experience, which in turn starts with our annual Tour Managers meeting. This year the Boston sales team and a full house of European-based Tour Managers gathered together for the first time in Lisbon, Portugal. It was an amazing opportunity to connect and collaborate on how ACIS can improve travelers’ experiences both before travel and while on tour, and a great opportunity to thank the Tour Managers who have spent much of the year working with students and teachers on the road.
Tour Manager Focus Group
The yearly ACIS Tour Manager event always kicks off in an extended session with our Tour Manager Focus Group. These individuals are selected annually to represent their region of expertise and offer insights and suggestions on how to improve the inclusions, programming and logistics of ACIS trips. This group also acts as a sounding board for the sales team through an email list, where sales can ask destination specific questions posed by teachers for upcoming travel or in the hopes of winning new business. The group meets over zoom multiple times during the year, but the Tour Manager meeting is our unique chance to come together in person, so we take advantage of it with a full day of meetings.
This year in Lisbon we covered topics such as:
- Sustainability – How can we reduce our carbon footprint staying in the city center, including public transport and eating local food. How can Tour Managers relay important sustainability information to the next generation?
- Improving Meals on Tour – While overall our meals get rave reviews, we want as much authentic local cuisine on the itinerary as possible. Every bite counts!
- Road Reports – These are new ways for Tour Managers to report small, easily solvable issues quickly to the local offices in real time. That way, the next group to travel can have an even more positive experience on tour.
We always do a review of the travel year and ask the focus group for feedback on hotels, inclusions and activities that might need tweaking.
The Big Meeting
On day two of the annual meeting, we gathered with the full guest list of tour managers, representatives from each of our European offices, and staff from the US. More than 100 people in total!
ACIS President Peter Jones welcomed everyone and thanked them for their partnership – It really does require a team effort to make the trips exceptional!
The Customer Journey: We know it helps improve communication when the full team has a holistic view of how the organization operates. This year the ACIS sales team presented the customer journey to help Tour Managers better understand the work that goes into planning a trip with ACIS and how they prepare teachers and their students for travel. Knowing how the process begins provides important context that they can then use overseas with groups.
Breakout Sessions: After the sales presentation, the tour managers broke into smaller groups to share their destination expertise on different European destinations like Berlin and Munich or Venice and Rome. Not only is this a time to make more personal connections with their peers, but is a great opportunity for the larger organization to leverage their combined years of knowledge and travel experience.
Keynotes: Every year, a few Tour Managers are selected to present on topics of interest and hear from other Tour Managers. This year the selected presentations were about top free time activities and suggestions for arrival day activities. It was informative and fun to learn about how different Tour Managers explore each city, and hopefully gave the other Tour Managers in the room some ideas for the next travel season.
A Show of Thanks
Once the meetings have concluded, we gather for a big party where we enjoy local cuisine and celebrate a year of travel! (Did someone say photobooth?)
It’s a wonderful annual tradition to celebrate the holidays together and give thanks for the great collaboration that makes ACIS the best in educational travel.
Join us on an educational tour abroad to see the ACIS Difference for yourself!