Billie Shay and Her Choir from Saint Patrick School Travel With ETC

For the past eight years, Billie Shay has taken her Junior High choir from Saint Patrick School in Decatur, Illinois to Washington D.C., Chicago, Nashville and Atlanta on performance trips to sing at these destinations. Her student travel company of choice is Educational Travel Consultants.

Student Groups Attending Music Festivals

In the beginning years, Shay’s groups were traveling to attend America Sings, a national event that is held in different cities each year. But since the cost of attending America Sings increased, Shay is now taking her groups on performance tour to different cities each year — and still happily traveling with Educational Travel Consultants.

A Flexible Itinerary for a Student Trip
Shay says, “What I like most about Educational Travel Consultants is that they are not just selling trips with definite itineraries. They give me a tentative schedule, and they work with me to adapt the schedule to our preferences and needs.” This flexibility is valuable to an educator who is tasked with tailoring the trip into a learning experience and adding a service component. “We don’t just perform at the main venue selected, the choir also goes to other places to sing when we travel,” commented Shay. “We sing at nursing homes and we also sing at a church on each student trip.” Shay’s group even sorted clothes at the Salvation Army one year. At one nursing home where the choir sang, the students played bingo and musical chairs with residents.

Students Take a Trip to Atlanta to Sing

The student performance trips are filled with entertainment and educational activities, some free and some low cost. Shay recalled Atlanta as a destination with a selection of interesting things to do, “Some of the activities we’ve done in Atlanta that are free are a shopping trip to underground Atlanta, a visit to the memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a visit to the Coca Cola Museum, where students sample Cokes from around the world.”

A Performance to Remember in Nashville

One of the most memorable performances over the years occurred when the student choir sang onstage at Nashville’s Opry Mills mall. “It was quite an experience,” remembered Shay. “They patched us into the sound system of the mall and no matter where you went in the mall – they heard us. Many people stopped in the mall to hear us sing. People love the kids no matter what they do.” The visibility impressed the students and they were enthusiastic to find they were so well received.

Keeping Student Trips on Budget

According to Shay, Educational Travel Consultants also strive to keep student trips within budget. Shay has called several student travel companies to compare pricing and tours. Her groups have performed at the same events as school groups who attend with other companies. She has noted the differences in price and service. For example, some student travel companies provide box lunches, while she requests that Educational Travel Consultants book her choir at sit down restaurants. Other travel companies offer pre-packaged trips with little, if any, wiggle room. Shay needs more than that to accommodate the needs of the school and the students.

A Student Trip Closer to Home This Year

With the economy in a slump, budgets are a main concern this year, but Shay is still committed to taking her choir on performance tour, and ETC is working with her existing budget. In years past the student trips were partially funded by bingo held at the church, but bingo was closed down six months ago due to lack of participation. “So, this year, we are working with a slashed budget,” said Shay. They only have 21 students traveling, and that represents about half of the normal number of 45 or more. Saint Patrick School Choir is traveling to Saint Louis, Missouri this year, because it’s a closer destination, and that reduces costs.

ETC’s Customer Service

Shay says the customer service at Educational Travel Consultants really is the best. “The whole staff works around me, my parents, students and what we want,” she acknowledges. “We’ve always stayed in nice hotels. I’ve never had any major complaints. I have a cell phone number so if there is a snafu, 9 times out of 10 the tour guide will handle it. If they don’t for some reason then I can phone someone at Educational Travel Consultants and they respond to my request.”

This personal service is unique, and is one of the main reasons that Educational Travel Consultants is a leader in the student travel industry. The quality of tour, price point, and flexibility keep teachers returning to do business with Educational Travel Consultants. For more information about Saint Patrick School visit the school website. To request a quote for a student performance tour either fill out the request a quote or email

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