As a tour operator, your job is to identify potential problems. So, beyond planning hotels, bus transportation, and vendor coordination, your job is also to watch for possible exposure points to COVID-19 germs. You’ll need to be able to advise trip leaders, parents of passengers, passengers, and tour managers.
Below are a few solutions to these potential problems.
If you didn't already know it, your new best friends are disinfecting wipes, masks, and hand sanitizer. As a tour operator that wants to organize a safe trip, who is responsible for bringing these items? Passengers? Trip Leaders? Tour Operators? Here are links to these items for purchase.
Passengers on trips are going to bring their own masks, but as a tour operator, you’re going to want to bring extra on the trip to cover all your bases. We encourage you to create new swag items for your travelers with your custom logo or branding colors to show your support.
Many of your passengers will want their personal supply of hand sanitizer, but you could also provide branded materials and have extras as backup. Great news! TSA has allowed a larger supply of sanitizers on flights. Read here to see the updated quantity you are able to bring onboard.
You'll need extra! Bring a few packs in your luggage or buy them when you get to your destination. Give them to trip leaders and pass them out to each traveler, reminding them that every surface they interact with could use an extra wipe down. Surfaces could include door handles, seat belt buckles, payment terminals at retail stores, and even hands when touching a potentially contaminated surface.
Whose job is it to organize these supplies? Whose responsibility is it to implement and monitor these safety protocols?
Update your packing list to encourage passengers to bring them in their luggage. Most tour operators provide a packing list as a pdf flyer of recommended items for travelers and trip leaders. If the trip leader wants to make these items “required,” you can create a spreadsheet checklist for them to monitor if passengers are bringing these required items.
If you are asking trip leaders to bring these items for passengers, how can you help them be more effective? You could provide them with websites where they can purchase these items, and suggested quantities to buy.
If you as the tour operator are going to provide these items, make a clear plan on how you can organize, ship, and distribute them to passengers. A good idea would be to send them to the trip leader. Or, send a smaller batch to the trip leader and mail the rest to your first hotel.
Now that you’ve armed your passengers with the knowledge and tools to handle germs, let’s look into vendors and possible points of contact.
Before traveling, do your research on airport safety protocols. Airport requirements vary based on where you are traveling from/to. Not only does the FAA website provide you with what the Federal Aviation Administration is required to comply with, but it’s important to review each airport's stance on cleaning procedures.
As a tour operator, it’s important to bring extra supplies, and reaffirm that you have wipes available as needed for students before they get to the airport.
Links: Atlanta, NYC, Miami, Orlando, SFO, Chicago, San Antonio, Seattle, & Dallas
We've learned from this pandemic that passengers going on trips might be sick before they leave for their destination. Begin temperature-taking early. Share the responsibility with parents and passengers to monitor temperatures and symptoms before the trip actually happens.
Here’s a link for a non-contact thermometer. Do you want to encourage your passengers to get tested for either COVID-19 or antibodies? Here’s a link about antibody testing.
Outline your procedures in your signed contracts as to how you plan to respond if a passenger gets sick on your trip,
While planning your trip, your tour managers should also ask about cleaning procedures and safety precautions that vendors have implemented regarding COVID-19.
Keep this type of information on file to prove that you have done your do-diligence, in case it's needed.
What preventative measures can your team take to ensure the well-being of your travelers? It’s great practice to institute daily temperature-taking at a consistent time each day. Trip leaders can help share this workload. Here’s a link to our favorite no-contact thermometer. We also recommend recording results to track multiple people so you can spot a potential issue before it turns into a health crisis.
Yes, most passengers will bring masks on the road. You can also provide them in each travel bag. Arm your trip leaders with extras to hand out as needed, and have enough to equip each passenger.
Your previous planning now needs to be put into action. Implement your sick passenger protocol. The first place to start is to quarantine them so as to further prevent the spread of germs or potential COVID-19. Reference your passenger's medical information. Can you access a tele-health appointment for them? Have a backup plan if your passenger needs to go to the hospital, or wants to return home to recover.
During the trip planning process, your tour coordinator will communicate with hotel vendors. The American Hotel & Lodging Association has implemented Safe Stay, an industrywide standard of health and safety protocols that ensure each hotel receives certification regarding sanitizing their facilities. This greatly lowers the spread of germs and COVID-19.
For individuals that want to take an extra step, refer them to UV sanitizing tools such as:
You could supply each room with an air purifier.
During the trip planning process, ensure your trip coordinator has spoken to the bus vendor to discuss their updated cleaning procedures. Provide cleaning supplies to passengers to wipe down their seats and hands as they load up during travel.
For those that want to purchase air purifiers for their trip, check out this 12volt UV air purification system.
As you are traveling to your food destination, remind your passengers that clean hands are required both before and after the meal to eliminate the spread of germs.
If the establishment where you are eating is self-serve, remind passengers that any time they touch a surface (like a payment terminal), they’ll need to clean up again before eating.
We hope this information helps you make the transition back into trip planning a little easier. Being responsible, and keeping passengers and trip leaders safe instills further confidence in them that your company cares for their well-being!
If you have any suggestions to add to this article, please let us know. Email Camille!