These are some important questions to ask before selecting a travel company
1. Insurance: Ask if the tour company carries Liability/Errors and Omissions insurance. E.T.C. does. You have home owners and auto insurance to protect you from risks and perils. Why then, would you start on a trip without that same protection and risk your career and future. E.T.C. is more than happy to provide you with a copy of our insurance upon request.
2. School Group Experience: Ask what experience the tour company has had with school groups to your destination. Let's face it, school group trips are unlike all others. The day must be full, the itinerary must be educational and kept moving, and evening activities away from the hotel are a must. For 20 years E.T.C. has been comprised of former school teachers and experienced professionals who specialize in school trips.
3. Get Itinerary: Ask to see a day-by-day itinerary with information about hotels, bus companies, restaurants, and attractions. Although most companies will not be able to give specific information about your trip before you book, they should be able to mention specific hotels, restaurants, and bus companies that they have used and are planning to use for your trip should you book it with them. Upon request, E.T.C. is more than happy to share the locations and names of our suppliers with you! We have used many of our suppliers for many years and have established excellent relationships with them. You can be assured that they will treat you well!
4. Can Performances Be Arranged?: Ask about the tour company's help in arranging a quality public performance at your destination (if you are a performance group). Most tour companies have no experience in this area. As a matter of practice, E.T.C. arranges public performances for many of the musical groups that travel with us, at no extra charge as a part of our service. A good tour company should be able to give you ideas about performance locations if you ask them.
5. Do You Have a Say?: Ask how closely the tour company works with you. Some tour companies force you to adapt your desires to their schedule. It seems that you don't have a say in what you do. E.T.C.'s attitude is that since you are paying for the trip, so we're going to do everything we can to accommodate your desires in every way we can. We have not lost sight of the fact that the customer is the most important part of our business.
6. Quality, Flexible Hotels?: Ask if the hotel is right for your group. Ideally, you want long, indoor hallways with no secondary openings to the outside (i.e. balconies). You want long-distance phones and adult movies turned off. You want a staff that has worked with school groups in the past and is comfortable with the higher levels of noise and activity that students bring with them. In most cases, E.T.C.'s hotels have indoor hallways and are THREE DIAMOND rated by AAA. Also, ask where the hotel is located. At first glance, center city hotels may seem attractive, however, there are security problems involved which may make them seem less appealing after you've stayed there a night or two. For this reason, E.T.C. uses hotels that are located in the suburbs. Not only are they safer, but we can increase quality for less money. In addition, E.T.C. hires private night security for your group. You and your chaperones can get a good night's rest without patrolling the halls worrying about your students’ well being. That's real "peace of mind".
7. Combining Groups?: Ask if you'll be combined with other groups. Some tour companies will combine your group with another group. This arrangement is of a slight benefit in price, but not in convenience. E.T.C. does not combine groups unless specifically called for and both parties are in agreement. Combining groups robs you of your individuality and flexibility.
8. Ask for references: A tour company should be glad to supply the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of schools that have traveled with them. You are about to entrust thousands of dollars and your reputation with a company - do your homework by calling that company's past clients and ask some tough questions.
9. What Is and Isn't Included?: Ask about the trip's cost and inclusions. Know what is NOT included in the trip package. Know how a change in participant numbers will affect your price. Know how many complementary chaperones are included in the price. Know what the deposit and final payment amounts and schedules are. Know what the withdrawal penalties are. Price is important, but it may pay in the long run to spend $10.00 or $20.00 more per person up front for a much higher quality trip than to try to save money and be burdened with hidden costs later on.
10. Ask who will accompany your trip: A tour company may not be able to give you the name of your escort six months before departure, but they should be able to discuss escort qualifications, training, and experience to your destination. It is also good to ask what portion of your trip will be escorted. E.T.C. employs professional escorts who are familiar with your destination and, unlike many companies, E.T.C. escorts are not part-time college students. E.T.C.'s practice is to assign an escort specifically to your group from the moment you arrive at your destination. Your escort stays at your hotel, rides the bus, eats with you, and attends the attractions with you.
11. Easy to Contact Staff?: Is there someone in the office I can talk to? Our staff is cross-trained and anyone, not just your sales rep., can assist you. Also, our phones are answered 24 hours a day by people, not machines. At E.T.C., we are always here for you.