How to Build an Optional Excursion
Despite offering a full Leisure Programme and Excursion Schedule, you will often be approached by IGLs and students requesting additional destinations. Being able to accommodate these requests is one of the key advantages of having a Leisure Manager, Excursions Manager and an Excursions Co-ordinator.
Within the Excursion Schedule you will see that we have suggested a few destinations and prices so that our agents have some ideas to suggest to their clients. We must never deviate from the included Excursion Programme and, therefore, if there are other destinations that seem desirable, it will benefit everyone if we can provide these. Ultimately, if we can make a request for an optional excursion economically and operationally viable and successful, we will.
So it is important that you understand the fundamental restrictions before saying yes to any requests:
- Transport: Can our providers supply us with what we need when we need it for?
- Costs: Have all elements been considered when building the price (transport, entrance, staff costs, IGL admissions etc.)?
- Staff: Will we have the required amount of staff available?
- Destinations: Will they be able to accommodate us and what is their best price?
- Who: Did the request come from a closed group who wish to remain this way, or would you be able to offer this to all students and reduce the collective costs (the latter is the best option as, with clever promotion, you could turn a small expensive trip into a larger cheaper excursion)?
Building a Price
Once you have investigated the above, the pricing is quite simple:
Total costs (including LAL staff and IGLs) + 10% contingency divided by the number of students (this means that the students are paying for their IGLs).
Standard Optional Excursion
A good number to aim for with an Optional Excursion that will require a coach is 30, in which case you should use the above example to calculate the price: total costs (including LAL staff and IGLs) + 10% contingency divided by 30.
If you were assuming 30 students, you would need 2 LAL staff and let’s say there is one group with an IGL, and the coach was £500, entry to the destination was £10 each, the cost would be:
£500 + £330* = £830 x 110% = £913 x 120% (VAT) = £1095.60 / 30 = £36.52 rounded up to £37 per student
All optional excursion are subject to 20% Value Added Tax (VAT)
* £330 = 30 students + 2 LAL staff + 1 IGL entry
This method could be applied to any size vehicle, and it is up to you to set the minimum numbers. We do not charge for packed meals, as they do not cost us.
The primary objective of an Optional Excursion/Activity is to enhance the students’ experience, with profit being a secondary gain. Therefore, if your target is 30 and you sell 31 tickets the returns will be low but that is still a great result. If however you have 40 people (students and IGLs) sign up, the price per student will remain the same as calculated for a group of 30 (it is too difficult to manage pricing adjustments once money has been collected) whilst the profit will increase considerably. This would of course be the ideal outcome.
Once you have built the price, you need to find at least 30 students willing to spend £30 to visit this destination.
- Set up a sign-up sheet in the Activity Centre which will clearly advise that this excursion will not happen until we receive 30 bookings and give a final date for both signing up and payment. This in fact encourages those who are keen to recruit others.
- Establish who will be collecting the money (could be any willing Senior Staff), when (Students/IGLs need clear guidelines as to when they can pay) and where (most of the time this would be the office). The Leisure Manager/Excursion Manager/Office Manager must keep the Optional Activity and Excursion Register document up to date.
- In an attempt to save time, you could offer to take the required amount directly from the students’ pocket money. This must be done by the Office Manager/Centre Manager/Leisure Manager/Excursion Manager and their pocket money form must be updated to reflect this (enter the excursion in the ‘purpose’ column as well as the new total/date and signature).
- Announce the Excursion at upcoming assemblies and create a poster using the standard Optional Excursion template for display on all notice boards and within the accommodation houses.
- Advise the House Parents so they can discuss this during their house meetings before the students go to bed.
As with any other excursion, you must ensure that there is a well structured Excursion template for this trip.
- Retrieve a map from openstreetmap.org to help the staff and establish timings, pick up/drop off points, meeting points and gather some interesting and/or useful information and put it all together in a Staff Excursion Guide document using the respective template.
- Decide on your Excursion Leader (and any additional staff required) and ensure they are fully prepared for this trip.
- Arrange all transport details with the coach provider and discuss the latest point you can cancel the booking to ensure that we are not charged if the numbers do not eventuate.
- Advise the kitchen of any packed meal requirements.
Managing the Money
It is imperative that the Leisure Manager/Excursion Manager (in consultation with the Office Manager) always update the Optional Activity and Excursion Register template with any payments received or new information (as per the Finance Files Instructions).
This way, when a student pays for their trip, it will be recorded and much easier to manage if we have to give the money back due to low numbers.
There should be a dedicated cash tin for this spreadsheet, and it should be reconciled weekly by the Office Manager, Leisure Manager, Excursions Manager or Excursions Co-ordinator depending on your internal preferences.
Completing the Student Excursion Handout.
Please ensure the fillable document is completed and one copy provided to each student. This is critical to ensure that they get the most out of their excursion and should also encourage them to use their English skills when they read it and discuss with others.
You will need to establish:
- History, relevance of their destination
- 4-5 Interesting facts
- 3-4 questions (make sure you know the answers).
Google is certainly valuable tools here, but also remember to ask any local staff for interesting titbits.