Erin P. is a first-time ACIS Group Leader heading to Europe next year. Although she started the process seeing limited interest, she has made her way up to 16 students by putting her recruiting efforts into high gear! In this post, she offers 5 pieces of advice for teachers trying to grow the size of their groups.
1. Start Planning Early but Use Deadlines to Motivate
I actually started recruiting for the trip 2 years in advance because I wanted to be sure my students had the extra time to pay. I held a parent meeting last spring after pitching the trip briefly to maybe 75 students, and I had 7 parents/families attend, but only 1 register. I followed up with the others, but they just weren’t ready to commit. This fall, I held another, and that time, still didn’t see spectacular results. This spring, I definitely went into overdrive with the other tips below, stressing that April 1st was a big deadline! Also, two of the kids who registered actually attended my very first parent meeting a year ago, so it was worth my time to keep following up, even when I didn’t think they were as likely to go anymore.
2. Consider a Wider Pool
I’m not willing to travel with kids I don’t know, so I didn’t want to offer the trip to the whole school, but with that said, I definitely opened it to a wider pool of students than I had at first. I talked about it in all of my classes (and I have nearly 160 advanced English kids in our program this year) multiple times and kept drumming up interest. Having a wider pool has made it much easier to find the students who were serious about this and could afford to go.
3. Don’t Apologize for the Price
The more I pitched, I became less apologetic about the price. I never said anything negative about how much it cost, but I felt a little unsure about it at first, and I’m sure that came across in my presentation. This time, I wasn’t flippant about the price or anything, but I was also confident about it. At some point, I actually priced out everything individually (not including food, tour manager, travel insurance, etc). The cost was so similar, it was easy to pitch how valuable this trip was, even without the immeasurable value of the experience of the thing itself, which I think is huge.
4. Make Yourself Available
I made myself available and did more to promote the parent meetings this spring. I also held parent sessions on 3 consecutive evenings. This was exhausting, for sure, but I had great turnout at each one, and I didn’t have the issue of as many parents being unable to attend.
5. Know it Will Get Easier
The good news is that I have a bunch of freshmen whose parents think they’re too young to go now but are already asking me if I’ll take another trip when they’re seniors in 2022! I think once you’ve established travel as a recurring part of the curriculum, promotion gets easier with subsequent trips. The deadline of April 1 was a big help too: I hammered that home to them as the deadline for having a private tour (aka not having to be combined with another group), and they responded very well.