Choose an experienced tour provider who is accredited by organisations such as the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC), the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and/or the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA). Find out if they have links with sporting governing bodies – such as, for example, England Netball or the British Canoe Union. If they do, you’ll have better-trained people running your activity programme.
Don’t assume that the cheapest price is also the best value – find out what is and, more importantly, what isn’t included. Are all activities included, or are some only available at a supplement? Are evening entertainment sessions included? Elsewhere, if your school holidays fall at different times from the majority of other schools in Britain, you may be able to benefit from off-peak deals. This can be a real bonus for ski trips, giving you a better choice of resorts and accommodation – and quieter slopes.
Seek out a provider with a good reputation and safety record. You will have to submit a risk assessment, but your provider should have all the risk assessments for what you are planning to do. If you are considering a ski trip, check that the provider has the necessary accreditations and safety management systems in place – including out-of-hours emergency support.
Support: how much?
Make sure that you are clear about how much support your group can expect at their destination, be it a sports camp, ski resort or other. Some ski operators provide a dedicated representative who stays with you throughout your trip, while others only offer a shared rep across the resort – or in some cases just a mobile phone.
Board and lodging
Decide what kind of resort and accommodation you want, and make sure that your tour organiser is personally familiar with those you have shortlisted. Ideally, your operator should provide a pre-booking service for your evening entertainment where possible. This guarantees the activities you prefer and saves time (and disappointment)
when you arrive.
Aims of the game
Discuss your objectives clearly with the operator. If it’s a sports trip that you’re planning, do you want to concentrate on tactics, fitness, match-play – or a little
of each? If you are considering a ski trip, what are the best resorts for your group’s ability level? Do you want to add a language-learning element to the trip? A good operator should be able to advise you and to create a programme tailor-made for your requirements.
Try before you buy
A decent provider will offer free inspection visits for prospective customers, allowing you to check out the facilities and accommodation and to sample the menu, so you can be sure that this is the right place to bring your group.
Put the word out
Once you have selected your trip and provider, advertise the trip in school as soon as you can. Many top providers will be able to supply you with a range of resources (presentations, videos, posters…) to help you enthuse parents, students, governors and colleagues.
Document your trip
Parental consent permitting, take plenty of photographs and footage to share with the rest of the school – and to help build support for your next successful trip!
PGL Travel Ltd is one of the UK’s most experienced providers of outdoor adventure activities for schools and groups. They offer a wide range of courses at their 16 residential centres in the UK including multi-activity, netball, cheerleading, dance, and Manchester United Soccer Schools coaching – plus ski trips to destinations throughout Europe and the USA.