As a public radio station host, Group Coordinator Barbara recruits for tour through her show and fills up the trips year after year. Read on to find out what makes her recruiting style both unique and successful.
Barbara knew that she had to find her way to Italy after reading a book about Italian opera. Around the time she finished the book she found out that a local priest was leading a group of community members on tour of Italy with EF Education First (Go Ahead’s parent company). She immediately signed up for the trip and when she returned, one of her friends gave her the recommendation to start leading her own tours. “She said, ‘the priest is doing it with the church, why can’t you be doing this with the radio show?” Since 2002, Barbara has been doing just that as a Go Ahead Group Coordinator.
As a way to lead tours through her unique platform as a radio host, Barbara tells listeners about that year’s tour on-air. In 2002, Barbara announced her first Go Ahead tour to Paris, Normandy & the Loire Valley to listeners and the response was instantaneous. “People were not only calling, but they were also coming down to the station saying they wanted to go to France…so we ended up with a waiting list.” Since her first Go Ahead tour to France, Barbara has led tours to places like Greece, Spain, Peru, Ireland, Italy, and is planning a trip to Portugal in 2019.
If listeners are interested in going on tour they can either sign up to secure their spot or enter to win a free tour during the station’s bi-annual fund drive. During the three and a half day fund drive, if listeners renew their subscriptions to the station they are automatically entered into the giveaway to win a trip for two on that year’s tour. The fundraisers and giveaways not only help to raise money for the public radio station, but also build loyalty between the station and the listeners. “The experience creates camaraderie,” said Barbara. “The travelers feel like they’re a part of something and that makes it a relationship that’s built on trust and quality.”
Once someone signs up for the trip, Barbara reaches out and sends a welcome letter that includes passport guidelines and her contact information. In the time leading up to the departure, she also emails out a monthly newsletter that includes everything from luggage guidelines and hotel expectations to packing tips and electronics information. Two weeks before the group sets off, she invites all of the travelers in the local area to an hour-long meeting at the station where they go over airport procedures. Barbara says she does this so she can make her group feel like a family even before they travel on tour. “They know they’re part of a group and they know they’re being taken care of,” said Barbara. “Go Ahead is taking care of travel stuff, but I’m taking care of personal needs. They know they have me as a local contact for questions or concerns.”
Barbara’s passion and hard work to make her tours so successful has paid off. Around a third of the group on each of her tours are repeat travelers. The interest the trip generates with the station audience has helped Barbara and her colleagues raise around $120,000 a year for the station. “We have a built in a way for us to promote the trip that doesn’t cost us any money and we have 35 travelers every time,” said Barbara.
Barbara highly recommends that other public radio hosts look into leading tours. “It builds loyalty with listeners and giving away free trips helps to get donations during fundraising times,” said Barbara. “It doesn’t take that much time and you can do as little or as much as you want with the pre-trip preparation.” She’s found that the demographic is perfect as most listeners are often retired people and educators who have the means and desire to travel. In addition, she loves the personal bond she’s able to create with her group members. “I can’t think of any tour I wouldn’t do again in a heartbeat,” said Barbara.
How do you recruit for a group tour? Let us know in the comments!