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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

A Learning Experience

I learned a lot about being a group leader in March when I organized an outing to the Ark Encounter for my church in Bardstown, Kentucky. Like many churches today, ours is struggling with attendance, especially with 20- and 30-somethings. I’m chairing a committee that is trying to create more opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy each other’s company.

The Ark Encounter is an hour-and-a-half drive from Bardstown, so I chartered a coach from Free Enterprise for the trip. We took 27 people, including two of our youth, and worked with Eddie Lutz’ sales staff at the park. Some of you know Eddie well from his sponsored events at many of our conferences.

Using a coach was the right thing to do, because it was much easier to meet at the church and go as a group. I think our no-show factor would have skyrocketed that day if we had tried to carpool our way up there. But the coach was expensive for a one-day trip.

I noticed that some of you made that observation at our breakout session in Buffalo a few weeks ago. More than one planner said current coach prices had made day trips harder to pull off. I can see why. My church subsidized part of the coach expense to encourage a successful first trip.

I marketed the trip with newsletter articles, posters and speaking opportunities at several services. And I “encouraged” everyone with free doughnuts from our local bakery, which may have been the smartest thing I did. We had a festive lunch at the park’s busy restaurant after touring the Ark, which allowed people to break into smaller groups and compare notes on the Ark Encounter’s depiction of Noah’s massive undertaking.

We had a great time, and everyone wants to know where we’re going next, so you may hear from me again sometime about another foray into the world of leading group travel. I admire and respect what all of you do for your groups after my first opportunity to encourage happy travelers to get “back on the bus.”