Ok, so you want to launch a sports tour, play the world, broaden horizons, sample different cultures and create some life-long memories for your players. But where do you begin and what do you need to consider before, during and after tour?
Sports touring can become a culture, a tradition, and be the bedrock in a schools sporting calendar that has endless benefits for your team. We understand this and like to think we have helped schools all over the world create their touring journey. Our loyal clients, many of whom are good friends, are some of the most experienced tour managers in the business who, alongside our dedicated team, have amassed a wealth of knowledge in leading these tours. So here we go, from some of our experts, touring heroes and operations team who are at the coalface of these unforgettable tours, we give you our Top 30 Touring Tips.
My number one tip when organising a sports tour would be to start preparing early. The more you can get done nice and early, prior to departure, the less stressful the whole process of organising 60 pupils and staff becomes. Get your risk assessments done, approved and out of the way as early as possible.
Some destinations will require each person to have an ESTA Visa before they travel. To ensure that all students get this, set up a ‘Visa/ESTA Evening’ in the School IT room where parents and students can come to complete the application online. That way you can monitor who completes it and chase those that don’t turn up!
If your tourists are all taking their own luggage (rather than special tour bags with the school's name emblazoned over it) attach a brightly coloured (laminated) label - with the school crest on it - to each bag using a strong elastic band. It will then be very obvious which bags are yours at baggage collection.
Break the payments down and put together a payment schedule for parents allowing more time to pay for an expensive tour. What's more, paying a little bit every month for 20 months doesn't seem as hard to pay as big chunks of cash.
Ensure you budget for a laundry session in the middle of your tour. The kit can get very smelly and grass-stained in hot countries! If you are lucky (or sponsored) each child will take two match shirts each, but if you are playing a minimum of five matches on tour, you will still need to launder the kit!
We always give the kids a contact card to carry in their wallets. This may be updated as countries or regions change.
Have several meetings both with and without representatives from Edwin Doran. This is great for assuring parents their children will be safe whilst with you and also for answering any questions that all parents will no doubt have. If you can, get someone in from Edwin Doran at some point, as there will always be that one tricky question that you couldn't possibly answer but your Edwin Doran tour coordinator can, or can find out for you!
I give parents a copy of our school behaviour charter. I ask parents to go home and discuss this with their sons/daughters before they both sign it. Typical things such as no drinking, no smoking and following teachers instructions at all times etc. are on this and the consequences of what would happen if they break any of these rules.
Matching sweaters or tour shirts always helps your pupils stand out on tour, especially at the airport.
Always try to work a day or two in advance of where you are on tour, so you have contacted your next school, hotel and/or excursion prior to arriving.
Make sure the tour manager takes a copy of everyone’s passports... you are guaranteed someone will loose theirs at some point whilst on tour!
On visiting Valkenburg down time between training and matches is very important. A great afternoon activity that should definitely be tried is the tobogganing; great value for money and a favourite with the staff!! Our pupils absolutely loved the PSV stadium tour too so get this booked in very early as it's very popular!
Allocate each travelling pupil a number which matches their numbered Edwin Doran holdalls, so rather than doing a head count the pupils shout out their numbers. This way you will know which student is missing and if they leave bag behind you can easily return it.
Use a ‘banking system’ on tour with pupils giving their spending money to a member of staff and only taking out small amounts as and when they need it. This will mean that pupils will avoid carrying large amounts of cash around with them.
When planning an excursion or activity that is weather dependent (e.g. Table Mountain), schedule it into the itinerary at the earliest possible opportunity giving you more time to attempt to reschedule if cancelled.
If you are touring Barbados with a strong prep school cricket team, ask for at least half of your matches to be against representative or club sides. They will give you a far better game than most primary school sides, who can have children as young as seven in their team.
For Johannesburg I would thoroughly recommend staying in Sandton near the Nelson Mandela Square. It was an excellent base and provided everything we needed within walking distance.
Know alternative things to do if the weather doesn't fit, be flexible, itineraries are guidance on what to do, excursions can be moved around.
Include your tour party in the decision making processes at the planning phase and let them help shape their Tour. They feel like they own it more, get an understanding of the detail that is required in running an activity of this nature and feel a greater level of pride in its success.
Don't think that other companies will be as good, might offer a cheaper trip but it won't be the same quality.
Always clarify the strength of your team before the fixtures take place.
Include as many group meals as possible in the package.
Plan well ahead finding out about the schools you will be playing against.