How To Successfully Tour While Touring
The long-awaited moment has arrived and you’ve made it to your destination intact (But you might be thinking to yourself, ‘Is there anything else I should know about?!’)! The following keys will serve to enhance your experience and keep your tour on track:
Expect the unexpected!
Remember that even the best laid plans can go a little right or left of center, that in spite of months and months of careful planning, a few things may/can go wrong. For instance, it’s possible that transportation might be delayed, that an unexpected storm might kick up, that there might be periods of waiting for one reason or another, or that something or someone might get misplaced or lost. But if you can prime your attitude to expect the unexpected and take it all in stride, you will not only survive, but survive well! And a positive and flexible approach will help you stay ‘open’ and receptive to the magic and wonder of your tour.
The following “What if?!” scenarios might prove useful:
- What if one of our air tickets is lost prior to departure? (Contact your travel provider immediately)
- What if one of our air tickets is lost or stolen at the airport? (Go to the airline and show them a photocopy of the lost ticket. The party who lost the ticket may have to pay for a replacement fee.)
- What if our flight has been delayed for more than an hour? (Always keep your travel provider informed about delays so your Tour Manager at the arrival city can be notified.)
- What if our flight has been cancelled? (Work with the airline to re-book your group. Inform your travel provider. Don’t leave the airport until you have been re-booked on the next available flight.)
- What if we miss our flight? (Work with the airline to re-book your flight; then contact your travel provider. Don’t leave the airport until you have been re-booked on the next available flight.)
- What if a suitcase is lost or damaged? (Inform the airline immediately and fill out the necessary claim form. If the affected group member has purchased Travel Insurance, they can contact the travel provider and/or the insurance provider upon return.)
- What if a member of the group becomes ill or injured? (Inform your Tour Manager at the arrival city who will help you find a physician or proper emergency care.)
- What if luggage is lost or damaged while not in the custody of the airline? (Inform your Tour Manager at the arrival city who will assist you in contacting the local authorities. Fill out a police report detailing all missing items. Passengers with Travel Insurance may file a claim upon returning home.)
- What if a passenger loses his or her passport? (Inform your Tour Manager at the arrival city and if necessary, contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate.)
- What if a venue cancels? Inform your Tour Manager at the arrival city who will contact your travel provider if necessary. Your travel provider should do everything in its power to either reschedule the original performance, or arrange another performance to take its place.
- What if group members become lost? (Make sure they know what steps to take beforehand. All participants should be given an assigned person’s cell phone number from the group, as well as contact information of the hotels in which they’ll be staying. If they should get lost, they should: 1) try to determine where they are; 2) stay where they are for at least 15 minutes; 3) if appropriate, ask someone who can be trusted to help telephone the contact person or hotel where they last stayed or will be staying; 4) if the contact person can’t be reached, they should leave a message at the hotel; and 5) alert a policeman if one is nearby (but don’t go looking for one).
Consider The Art of Traveling
Record your remarkable tour!
Tell your story in journals, on Facebook or via a special blog. Email your friends, family, and community with all the memorable, touching, funny stories, experiences and photos. Consider assigning ‘gifted’ members of your group (those who might have special skills, interests or proclivities with pictures and words) to help memorialize your amazing concert tour.
Establish and distribute participant rules
Concert tour participants should be reminded of the following:
- Label Everything! Protect your belongings. Participants are responsible for everything they bring including cash. Your chaperone is not your banker. Leave ‘precious’ or expensive items at home just in case you lose them.
- Help the chaperones help you! Give directors, chaperones, and guides your full attention and complete cooperation. They have worked long and hard to make this tour possible and are given the responsibility for your safety and well-being.
- You are a guest! Whether at a rehearsal, performance, or in any public place or tour environment, be courteous and respectful of people, cultures, and property. You are a guest and a representative of your organization (and perhaps, country).
- Behave like a professional! Orderly, quiet behavior is expected in all public places. (For student groups: unless it is clearly stated that “this is recreation time”, no running or pushing, loud talking or loud laughing.)
- Go nowhere alone! Functioning under a buddy system throughout the tour is a great idea. Always advise (or if appropriate, request permission from) your chaperone if you wish to go somewhere. Inform your chaperone where you will be, who you will be with and when/where you will return.
- Think ahead/plan ahead! Refer to your schedule at all times. Be on time, whether it is to the breakfast table, the bus, or a concert venue, whether it relates to curfew or return from an approved outing with your buddy. Be on time. Establish a central meeting point at each location just in case there is a mix-up and stay there!
- Be a good teammate! Bring your most cheerful, cooperative self each day! Avoid whining. Be friendly with all the members of your group. Your experience will be all the richer for it.
- Get enough sleep! Do things at the appointed hour. When it’s time to rest, rest. When it’s time to perform, bring your very best to it.
- Use a headset! If you listen to your iPod, CD player or game player, use a headset. It’s a good idea to only use such devices during travel days or down times, not during group tours, rehearsals, performances or group activities. Leave the ‘virtual’ world at home and be present during your tour.
- Follow the rules on the bus, plane, or train! Be sure to check around you for your belongings when you exit the bus/plane/train.
Rules and discipline when touring with students
Touring with students may require additional participant rules and consequences for breaking the rules. First, the rules and consequences for breaking them need to be firmly established and clearly understood long before a student group ever goes on a concert tour (preferably at one of the initial meetings). Establishing guidelines in the interests of safety, good fun, and having an extraordinary experience is usually enough to keep everyone on ‘the same page.’ However, it would be wise to consider any reports of past behavioral problems of your prospective participants, to organize a large group of parent-chaperones, and to remind all students and parents of some general expectations regarding tour behavior, to, in essence, say, “We will:
- Respect all guidelines/rules of the group’s sponsor (school, church, community, etc.), hotels, coaches, airlines, tour destination (attractions and venues included), group leaders, tour directors and chaperones;
- Follow rules regarding cell phone use and the use of electronic devices (you’ll need to decide what your particular rules will be);
- No smoking, or use of alcoholic beverages, unauthorized drugs or illegal substances;
- Be on time;
- Follow curfew rules; and
- Treat all property and persons with respect.”
Common violations of student groups include:
- Abusing free time privileges (like leaving group or agreed-upon area during free time);
- Using banned substances;
- Breaking curfew rules;
- Arriving late;
- Being disruptive;
- Being disrespectful; and
- Always trying to ‘push the envelope’ or negotiate new rules.
Keep in mind there are levels of rules and levels of infractions. Consequences for breaking some rules might require that a student lose some privileges, like choosing how to use free time, or having periods of independence (from chaperones and/or the group). Other consequences of relatively minor infractions might include having to clean the coach, help load baggage or accomplish other chores specific to the group’s performance schedule. More serious violations might result in parents being notified and asked to participate in the disciplinary process. Great care should be taken before banning a student from excursions or paid-for activities as this can create liability issues. In the same vein, sending a student home or even threatening to send a student home should be used only in the direst of circumstances because of logistic and/or legal complications and ramifications. It’s a good idea to discuss and put in writing before the tour the rules, the consequences for breaking those rules, and what a last-resort remedy for serious infractions of the rules might be. Include the students in the rule-and-consequence-making process to help make them accountable. Some members of student groups also sign contracts to demonstrate their commitment to keeping the rules prior to touring.