1.) Why Choose eduSTAR?
This is a great question and, as parents, we at eduSTAR would ask the same. The bottom line is “WE KNOW!” Educational student tours are what WE KNOW. We don’t do honeymoons or family vacations. WE KNOW that your group tour is 1 day to 14 days but we focus on your school’s tour 365 days a year. WE KNOW how to help schools, administrators, boards of education. WE KNOW how to manage transportation, hotels, meals, tour guides and safety precautions which require detailed planning. WE KNOW that over 30 years we have been in the student tour business and we have created numerous partnerships with suppliers and vendors. WE KNOW how to solve problems whether it is delayed flights, weather issues, illness, etc. Finally, WE KNOW how to have school groups return year after year and recommend other schools to work with eduSTAR.
2.) Is there a minimum or maximum number of participants required?
Great question! We have worked with groups of 300+ and as small as 20. Your tour group will NOT be consolidated with another group and you will have your own exclusive tour. We unfortunately cannot host groups that are less than 20 participants. Please understand that a motor coach can carry has many as 57 passengers. The lowest price we can provide is based on 50 paying participants. If you are 58 paying participants our price would need to be increased.
3.) What if a participant must cancel?
As a general rule, all deposits are non-refundable; however eduSTAR has a couple of options. If a student registers online and pays for eduSTAR’s Deposit Protection Coverage (“DPC”) then all deposits are refundable for any reason. Another option is simply to take a chance and find a replacement that has not yet registered with eduSTAR. eduSTAR also provides travel insurance options mentioned in our website.
4.) What if not enough participants sign up for the group tour?
Due to lack of participation, eduSTAR will allow you to cancel your tour as long as it is prior to your initial deposit date. eduSTAR will not accept deposits from anyone unless and until your group has met the minimum requirements.
5.) Any suggestions on increasing our numbers?
Sure. There are several ways to increase your participants. If you are a drama teacher, communicate with other drama teachers in neighboring towns or that you otherwise know. On the other hand, if you are a business teacher and traveling to New York, ask your fashion teacher or any other teacher. We can customize the itinerary to make it work for everyone.
6.) How will you confirm our package price?
Most groups do not know what their exact number of participants will be until the initial deposit due date. We will provide you with a tiered pricing system based on your initial estimate of participants. For instance, if your estimated number is 30+ students, we will provide you with a per person price based on 20-29 students, 30-39 students and 40-50 students. The final cost of your tour will be based on the final number of participants.
7.) What are your payment options?
Basically, you have two options. The first is that the Group Leader collects all of the payments and keeps an “Excel” spread sheet as to the amounts that each participant has paid. We would then provide you with a general invoice as to the amount due for the tour. Individual or school checks may be written directly to “eduSTAR Tours”. For an additional fee, you can have eduSTAR handle the billing directly. In that event, simply collect all of the Registration Forms with the 1st deposits. We will then load everyone on line and we will take care of all of the rest by emailing directly to the parents. In that program, we will accept credit cards.
8.) How do you apply fundraising amounts to my students’ accounts?
When you submit a fundraising check to eduSTAR Tours, we ask that you attach an “Excel” spreadsheet detailing the students’ names and the amounts that should be applied to each account. We ask that all fundraising checks are received six weeks prior to your tour date so we can properly adjust everyone’s balance before the final payments are due.
9.) Do you offer a travel insurance program?
Of course. There are several options for you and the parents to consider with respect to travel insurance on this educational school tour. One option is to participate in eduSTAR’s “Tour Payment Refund” program which allows you to cancel for any reason or no reason. In that event, the group must all participate in the Online Payment System. The other two insurance policies are the National Tour Association “Travel Protection and 24-Hour Assistance for Travelers “ (applications can be provided by eduSTAR) or the “Insure My Group” company, which can be found at www.insuremytrip.com.
10.) How do I know who has signed up for my group tour?
If eduSTAR has set up individual accounts for your participants, each Group Leader will have access to our Group Leader section on our website and will be able to view your list of tour participants, including contact information and balances due. We strongly suggest that you receive confirmation from parents that they agree to their student traveling and will register online.
11.) What happens if I need to reach eduSTAR after business hours while I am on tour?
It is very important on your educational school tour to keep communication open and available at all times. Any time anyone calls eduSTAR at 800-426-0157 after hours, an emergency number will be provided. Prior to your tour, your Group Leader will also be provided with your Tour Executive cell phone, Tour Guide’s cell phone and motorcoach 24-hour emergency number. While in town your Tour Guide will stay with your group and be accessible 24/7.
12.) What if a student has special needs?
Please inform eduSTAR immediately so we can discuss any necessary accommodations while on tour. Different tour participants may have different needs. For example, a participant may need a refrigerator in their hotel room or a handicap room. Additionally, if a participant will be in a wheelchair, we must tell the airline and reserve a handicap accessible motor coach immediately. Please be aware that these buses are limited and offer fewer seats.
13.) What if our school system or school board does not approve field trips?
We have several thoughts about that question. The first is that you should always start very early in the approval process. Second is that eduSTAR does not accept deposits unless and until your school group has obtained appropriate approvals. Remember all deposits are non-refundable.
In many cases where a school or school board does not allow overnight field trips there is an easy solution. Essentially, the teacher can’t be in charge so you form a parent committee and name a parent in charge. Hold meetings outside of school and don’t name the trip under the school name. It is that easy. One time, that did occur and the principal came on the trip NOT as principal.
14.) Can adult participants drive to meet a tour on their own?
For legal liability reasons, eduSTAR cannot recognize anyone not traveling aboard the motor coach as a member of the group. While America is a great country and anybody can meet your tour group on their own transportation, stay in the same hotel on their own and do everything on their own, they cannot be associated with the eduSTAR group and your school and eduSTAR cannot be responsible for those people. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT THIS NOT BE ALLOWED.
15.) Do teachers/chaperones travel for free?
eduSTAR offers one free chaperone for every 20 paying participants on your educational school tour. Some schools may require a 1 to 20, 1 to10 or 1 to 6 chaperone to student ratio. Please confirm with your school district what their requirements are for student travel. Inform eduSTAR of your preferred ratio so we can include the proper amount of free chaperones in your tour package price. Please remember that it is the group’s responsibility to provide chaperones for the tour as eduSTAR is not responsible for staffing chaperones. Therefore, you must count adults as “chaperones” and only one adult per 20 students travels for “free.”
16.) What can I do inside the Group Leader login section of your website?
If eduSTAR has set up personal accounts for your participants, each Group Leader will have access to our Group Leader section.
You will have full time access to your school’s account and will be able to do the following:
1) view your list of tour participants, including contact information and balances due;
2) view waitlisted participants;
3) view canceled participants; and
4) view and download the registration form, medical form and other participant/group paperwork.
17.) Can I customize my own itinerary?
Of course! This is your tour and you are more than welcome to provide us with your ideas based on your goals. eduSTAR customizes each tour to suit your needs. Your dedicated Tour Executive will be happy to discuss the goals and objectives of your group tour. We will work closely with you providing sound advice in regards to timing and placement of various sites and attractions to ensure that your tour flows smoothly. If you would like to leave the details entirely up to us, we will be more than happy to provide you with our recommendations.