In a Nutshell
What it takes to lead a student trip to Israel and the roles shared by members of the leadership team with the support of the tour company
The number of leaders needed depends on the number of participants on the trip. For a trip of 40 participants (one bus) two to three enthusiastic and committed individuals is recommended. For larger groups over 40 that would fill two buses, four to five leaders is recommended. It is best to have at least two leaders on each bus.
Each leader brings his or her own added value – networks, experiences, interests, background – that contribute a unique perspective to the trip.
Generally, team leadership roles fall into three categories, and responsibilities can be divided up among however many team leaders there are for a trip. The key is to make sure, at the outset, that there is clarity around the roles and responsibilities of the different team members, and to designate one member who leads the team, delegates authority, and ensures that everything gets done.
Recommended leadership roles
The executive role is one of visionary; the executive takes responsibility for the overview of the trip and the overall itinerary. This should be someone with strong project management and relationship-building skills.
- Serves as the primary point of contact between the leadership team and the tour company, funders, and itrek.
- Facilitates discussions and decision-making with the other team leaders
- Makes final decisions when there is no consensus
- Creates a final, detailed itinerary including backup plans in the event a speaker cancels or other unexpected event causes a change
- Manages overall logistics, including securing major speakers and any events in Israel that the tour company cannot coordinate
- Creates a day to day, hour by hour administrative schedule that itemizes and details who on the leadership team is be responsible for what during the trip
- Serves as primary liaison with tour guide
The communications role is responsible for all areas of communication. This should be someone with strong communication skills who is tech-savvy and detail-oriented.
- Serves as the primary point of contact between the leadership team and the participants
- Creates ways for trip leaders to communicate and share information and documents (email lists, social media, online groups, a dedicated Google drive, for example)
- Creates emails, posters, and flyers for recruiting and marketing the trip
- Creates an electronic application form and a form for collecting detailed information about each participant
- Manages a trip registration process
- Responds to participant questions
- Creates ways for team leaders and participants to communicate (Facebook group, WhatsApp group, message board, emails, for example)
- Brainstorms speakers; reaches out to major speakers to address the group before and during the trip
- Facilitates any external events which involve networking with alumnae or other groups
- Coordinates gatherings, including: pre-trip information sessions, icebreaker before travel, and reunion
- Provides a point of contact for visa issues
- Writes immigration letters and provides each participant with one
- Puts together and publishes trip information packets for participants and leaders
The finance role encompasses all tasks relating to funding the trip. This should be someone who has strong budget skills and attention to detail.
- Builds and tracks the trip budget, including funding, costs, deposits, and anticipated expenses
- Identifies sources of funding and applies for grants
- Creates mechanisms for gathering money, paying bills, (for example, channeling money through an established 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization)
- Monitors expenditures to ensure that forecast expenses and spending stay on track
- Keeps meticulous records of receipts, anticipated costs, and financial responsibilities
- Work together to divide up the three main roles and responsibilities among all the trip leaders
- Generate ideas
- Contact speakers and schedule events
- Share leadership responsibilities for logistics before and during travel
- Share responsibility to do whatever needs to be done
- Share personal insights and experiences and facilitate sharing before, throughout, and after the trip
- Connect personally with the participants on the trip
- Facilitate reflections and discussion groups
- Serve as a resource for participants before, during and after the trip
Tour company and tour guide
While not part of the leadership team, tour company staff and the tour guide are critical to the trip’s success. The tour company’s role includes:
- Coordinate ALL logistics in Israel from the biggest to the smallest, including hotels, busses, meals, site entries, speakers etc.
- Provide a focal point for information regarding prices, availability, speakers etc.
- Investigate availability and quote prices for any requested activities
- Build an itinerary based on the leadership team’s goals; offer options and explain how to integrate them into the schedule
- Provide a reality check: what can be done and what can’t be done given time constraints, budget, geographic location etc.
- Partner in realizing educational goals and developing the trip’s curriculum
- Inform about potential opportunities or issues in Israel that might affect the itinerary (events, festivals, demonstrations, blocked roads, etc.)
- Build booklets for participants on the ground
- Connect leaders with external vendors for souvenirs, shirts and memorabilia
- Assure the smooth operation of the trip on the ground
In addition, the tour company connects you with your tour guide. The leadership team should interview and pick a tour guide who fits their trip’s needs.
The tour guide:
- Provides an ongoing liaison on the ground with the tour company
- Handles day to day logistics during the trip, including food, travel, and hotel; helps keep the tour on schedule
- Delivers the educational curriculum during the trip that should be enriched and augmented by leaders (the student trip leaders’ added value is in sharing their personal experience), speakers, and participants
- Handles tour-company related funds, paying all fees during the trip and providing vouchers for restaurants and activities
Interview your tour guide and select one early on, so the tour guide can provide insight and advice on itinerary design.