This blogpost was inspired by our recent webinar How to Host Superior Recruitment Meetings. You can watch it online on our YouTube channel.
You’ve made the decision to organize a trip with ACIS Educational Tours and chosen your itinerary, so your next step is to get your group together. One of the key tools in creating buzz for your trip and getting parents on board is the recruitment meeting. It might seem a daunting prospect, but with a bit of forward planning and creative thinking, your meeting will be a success and make all the difference in growing enthusiasm for you trip.
Here are our top tips for running an inspiring and effective recruitment meeting.
Build Enthusiasm in Advance
As important as the recruitment meeting is, you should begin generating interest as soon as the trip is confirmed. That way, when you announce the date of your meeting, there will already be a good amount of awareness of your trip and interest in finding out more. Find ways of weaving details of the itinerary into your curriculum, to give you the opportunity to tell your students what they’ll see and learn on their trip. DVDs or Powerpoint presentations are a great way of making the trip come alive. Get your most enthusiastic students to help you spread the word—use your language club (if you have one) or check out ACIS’ Student Ambassador Program to empower your students to make the trip happen.
Bolster Your List of Contacts
It’s important to capture the contact details of anyone who expresses interest in the trip, so you can invite them to your recruitment meeting, and keep them informed of important deadlines. Collect email addresses of interested parents at every opportunity—put out sign-up sheets at other school events so that you can build up your email list. And of course, make sure everyone who attends your recruitment meeting leaves their contact details so you can follow up with them.
Select the Best Date
Give yourself the best chance of getting numbers for your meeting by choosing a night that’s easy for parents and students to attend. Look at what other activities are going on at your school or in your community to make sure there are no competing events. Choose a time that will work for most people—around 7pm usually works well. Pick a date that gives you enough time to publicize it, but isn’t so far ahead that people might forget about it or other commitments might come up. Publicizing the date two to three weeks ahead seems to be the right balance. Think about running two meetings, to give people with busy schedules the best chance of being able to attend.
Location, Location, Location
Choose a meeting space that’s convenient, accessible and familiar to the people you’re inviting. If there’s a space in your school you can use, such as an auditorium or a classroom this would be ideal. You could use a computer lab so that people can use the computers to register for the trip on the night. If your trip isn’t school sponsored, you could look for meeting space in your local community, such as a library. Be aware of how people will be getting to the meeting and ensure that there is adequate parking and/or good public transport links.
Get the Word Out
You’ve picked the date and time. You’ve chosen the place. Now you need to make sure that people actually turn up! The key to getting a good number of people to attend is to promote the meeting through as many avenues as possible. Send a letter home to parents inviting them to the meeting, and include the itinerary to get them excited about the trip. If you like social media, use a Facebook page or Twitter hashtag for the trip and advertise your meeting that way.
Word of mouth is key. Talk to as many students and parents as possible. Put out flyers and posters at other school, community and sporting events. It’s a good idea to ask people to RSVP, so that you can get a sense of how many people will attend. If response is poor you need to think about ramping up your publicity efforts or possibly changing the meeting to a more popular date.
Let Us Help!
The ACIS website and your ACIS Tour Consultant can provide lots of materials that will help you put on an impactful recruitment meeting. You’ll get your own TripSite, so you can invite parents to your meeting through that. Also, the ‘My Account’ section of the website has some really great planning and recruitment tools, such as videos, presentations and posters.
Prepare and Rehearse a Winning Agenda
Create a plan for the meeting with all the key points you want to cover, and practice it, particularly if you are doing the meeting jointly with another colleague. You want your presentation to be as polished as possible to give parents the confidence that you know what you are doing, and that their children will be in safe hands.
Draw on your own experience and your own passion for travel to let parents know why you are qualified to run the trip. Take the Powerpoint presentation that ACIS will give you and make it your own—customize it with your own photos and details of previous trips you’ve organized.
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.
Use the Power of Testimonials
The stories of past travelers are very powerful in explaining why an overseas trip makes such a difference to students’ lives. Collect quotes from past travelers and their parents and make a slideshow or video with photos to really show how amazing your trip will be. ACIS’ YouTube channel has some great examples you can use. If some of your past travelers are available to attend the meeting, even better. Also, consider inviting your principal so that they give you their endorsement and reassure parents that you know what you’re doing! You can also download Teachers in their Own Words which contains stories from past ACIS group leaders that will help you to make the case that educational travel has a wonderful, positive benefit.
On the Meeting Day
It’s important that you feel relaxed and organized on the day of the meeting, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get set up. Expect that some parents may turn up a little early, so try not to leave everything until the last minute. If you’re using a computer and projector, give yourself time to set this up and get everything working correctly.
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.
Have Fun. Be Creative!
Make the meeting as fun, creative and inspiring as possible. Theme everything to trip—provide food from the country you’re planning to visit, play music, have a video or slideshow playing as people arrive. Put up decorations—flags, posters, photos—to really get people excited about your destination. Use your imagination!
Sealing the Deal
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 ready.
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 any answers—tell parents that you can find out and let them know later.
It’s a Wrap!
End the meeting on a positive note, so parents go away feeling inspired and confident about the prospect of sending their child overseas. Finish up by telling a personal story, or talking about your passion for educational travel.
It’s very important to use the momentum of the meeting to get people to register. Talk about it next day in class. Get materials together for those that couldn’t attend. Send out an email the next day to thank people for attending and telling them how to register if they haven’t already. If you can, take the time to call all the parents who attended, and contact any parent who couldn’t attend but whose child is interested in the trip.
Best of luck!
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