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Educational Tours: Learning on the Go

When people hear the term “educational trip,” many will conjure the image of Charlie Brown’s teacher lecturing gibberish to a classroom. If you want to create an engaging educational tour, your mission is to dispel this impression.

When the Penn State Alumni Group toured Bhutan with Odysseys Unlimited, the tour included a dinner with the prime minister of Bhutan and several members of their Penn State Alumni parliament. The firsthand look into the politics of Bhutan is not only educational but also a fascinating experience.

So when you start brainstorming future trips, keep in mind these four tips for creating a trip that both informs and entertains.


1. Know your group.

To know if your group would love a visit to the Yeats Society in Ireland, you first have to know whether your travel members will jump at the chance or yawn over the idea. World Cultural Tours wove this experience into an Ireland tour for a literature-loving group with great success.

“The first thing the group planner should think about is their constituents,” said Alisha Browne, director of marketing and project manager for World Cultural Tours. “If the group has any common interests, then you can create a dynamic itinerary that will pique their interest.”

World Cultural Tours builds customized tours with educational focuses for alumni and other adult groups. The company customizes tours to make them fit the type of group traveling.

Strive to survey as many potential travelers as possible to know their ages, interests and travel wish lists.

“Planners are going to select potential travelers who they think will be interested in the trip,” said Sue Bonchi, vice president of marketing for Odysseys Unlimited, a tour operator that creates trips for alumni and other nonprofit groups. “Alumni planners wouldn’t market their tours to recent graduates. They wouldn’t have the time or money our tours would need.”


2. Market the fun.

To grab people’s interest in an educational tour, aim to capture the excitement of the destination in your marketing materials. Tour operators can put together professional online and printed promotional materials that will help you sell the trip.

Some alumni travel planners encourage interest in the trip with a lecture series from a current professor on a topic relating to an upcoming destination. Alumni who attend a workshop on the religious culture of India might show up out of curiosity and be so fascinated that they sign up for a trip to India by the end of the event.

Creating an online class or lecture on the destination so your members can watch it at their convenience can also prove an easy way to spread interest. During each of the lectures, you can weave in a message talking about the tour to entice the audience.

Less formal events can emphasize the fun of a location, such as receptions and cocktail parties themed to the trip. Tour operators like Odysseys Unlimited regularly help find local venues for university planners looking to invite local alumni.

Choose a memorable theme that incorporates food and beverages from the destination to entice potential travelers. Themes such as an Italian wine-tasting party for a trip to Tuscany can go a long way in building enthusiasm for the tour.