Go Ahead Group Coordinator Debbie has been traveling with Go Ahead and EF Education First for 13 years, bringing groups of friends and family members on tours spanning the globe from Italy to Thailand. Having just returned from her 19th tour, Debbie has learned some expert tips and travel tricks to help her group members always have an amazing time—and to a build a loyal group of fellow adventurers. One thing that she does to bring a personal touch to her trips is weave in fun surprises that her group members will remember forever.
Go Ahead: Your photos are so cute—tell us about this festive photo op in Paris!
Debbie: My group was so excited about seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, that I wanted to make the experience even more memorable for them with a little surprise. For all my tours, I always try to think of something fun and unique that we can do for photo ops—when in France, cue the berets!
My artist friend personalized the berets with the travelers’ names. We presented the hats when we arrived at the tower. Everyone was thrilled and quite proud to model their berets! I was worried that it might be “too touristy,” but when strangers kept asking us where they could purchase the berets, I knew it was a truly unforgettable moment.
Go Ahead: So fun! Any other photo props you’ve used over the years?
Debbie: Lots—everyone likes using the silly props for photos. While in Argentina we visited an estancia (or ranch). I brought bandanas in an array of colors and let everyone choose their favorite color. We all wore them to the estancia, even Jorge, our Tour Director. It was simple but really unified our group—The Travel Tribe!
When we were in England, I brought along Harry Potter magic wands and a Gryffindor scarf. We went to King’s Cross Station in London and all had our photos taken entering Platform 9 3/4. That was great fun! We also planned ahead to reenact the Beatles crossing Abbey Road. We even tried to look like our Beatle counterparts. For example, I wore a blue suit and carried a cigarette like Paul, and another wore all white like John. The pictures were awesome, and we all had a laugh! We also had our pictures taken in the iconic red phone booths in England and I bought phone booth frames for each traveler to display their photos in as a little surprise.
Go Ahead: Any other fun ideas to take your tours up a notch?
Debbie: I try to do something special on every tour. Not every tour offers a great photo op, so I plan an activity. For example, on some trips we do a “scavenger hunt” around a destination in order to gather local food and wine for a tasting party. Everyone buys something and brings it to a designated place like the hotel patio, and we all taste the various goodies. I also always buy local snacks and candies for everyone to try while traveling on the bus. It’s important to immerse ourselves in the local culture and customs with all of our senses and, taste is a fantastic way to do that.
Doing a surprise upgrade is always nice, too. For example, when doing the London Eye, I upgraded my group to The Champagne and Chocolate Ride. I didn’t tell them until we were in line. They all felt like they had won the lottery! And one night in Athens, I made reservations for my group at a rooftop terrace bar. We had drinks under a full moon while viewing the Acropolis lit up in her splendor!
Do you have any tips for other Group Coordinators on how to leave a personal mark on their group’s adventure? Leave them in the comments below!