Advice for Traveling Teacher Leaders
The Student & Youth Travel Association and the travel organizations that help make up the association's membership are proud of their extensive commitment to student group travel safety.
To be a SYTA Active Member, a travel organization must meet strict safety and financial stability standards and be a tour operator, receptive operator, travel agent, or travel planner of student group trips.
Over the past year and a half, SYTA has partnered with The Center for Student Travel Safety to develop a travel safety certification program designed to introduce the first-of-its-kind operational and safety standards to the student group travel industry, in an effort to enhance the overall safety of travel. In 2019, SYTA purchased CSTS to have this 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization independently oversee these standards and the rigorous Certified Student Travel Organization program developed during this partnership.
SYTA Active Members share a common goal: to share their vast experiences when it comes to student travel safety and to continuously seek ways to reduce the chance of an unwanted event occurring during a trip. During the 25-year history of SYTA, members have adhered to strict performance and safety standards designed to improve the professionalism of the industry, while placing special emphasis on implementing experience-based practices shared by members. When a SYTA travel organization leads tour groups, they put these practices in place. When they are not performing leadership duties for a student tour and are providing only the tour director, there is opportunity to enhance the safety of the trip by sharing the lessons SYTA members have learned over the years. The Advice for Traveling Teacher Leaders document is a great way to accomplish that goal. This document covers some of our experiences and safety practices to help reduce the chance of a problem surfacing during a trip.
The list of practices we suggest you share with your clients is not intended to be inclusive of every challenge a group could face when traveling. Each group is different and group leaders must assess the potential risks facing their group. Time and experience have shown that SYTA Active Members who follow these simple suggestions could reduce the chance of a problem surfacing.
One of the new CSTO standards calls for travel organizations to share this form with their clients during the trip planning and contract negotiation process. Once you have negotiated the contract terms of the agreement with your client, it would be an ideal time to present this document and a review its content and intensions. There is a space reserved on the document for the client representative and the travel organization to sign. By signing this document, the client is acknowledging receipt—not necessarily a full understanding—of its content. In the event the client fails to follow this advice and a problem arises, it is possible the travel organization's culpability regarding that problem may be reduced. While this is not why SYTA developed this safety tool, it does appear to be a potential benefit.
The document begins with a short introduction and then provides many recommended student travel practices for your client's consideration during their trip. There is advice on practices to use when arriving at the hotel, using the pool, traveling by motorcoach, moving a group, and when at a dining facility, amusement park, or attraction, as well as when dealing with medical emergencies.
If you choose to use this document as it is intended, you will need to train your staff and tour directors annually on its use and ensure tour directors have this document while on the tour, in the event your client fails to distribute this important form to the traveling teacher leaders.
We hope you find these travel practices helpful in improving all your tours.
Written by Michael Bowers, Student Travel Safety Consultant, Travel Safety Solutions LLC.