Group Travel Tips for Direct Groups: Part 2 – Planning Your Trip Timeline

Now that you have decided on the purpose of your group trip, where you want to travel and what time of the year, you will now be faced with the task of planning your group tour. There will be many questions to answer, lots of details to complete and numerous deadlines to meet. Knowing what to tackle first, what decisions to make and what support you will need throughout both the planning period and on the trip will help make the process run smoothly. The key is to plan far in advance.The planning all begins with a timeline. Following are some general guidelines for mapping out the period from when the seed is planted until the departure date. Note: This timeline may differ depending upon your type of group, what destination you have chosen and when you may be traveling.18 Months Prior to DepartureWho will be invited to participate?
Determine the approximate length and dates of the trip.
Begin researching your chosen destination to find out what attractions, museums, theme parks, outdoor adventures, water parks, etc. you would like to attend and the costs associated with each.
Begin researching transportation, hotels, vacation homes, dining and shopping (if applicable) and the costs associated with each.
If this is a school trip, talk with the school principal and/or administration to receive their approval.10 to 12 Months Prior to DepartureSet firm dates.
If flying, final pricing may not be available until 10 months prior to departure. Also, arrange transportation to and from the airport when you have secured your flights.
Motorcoach/minibus companies also work 10 months in advance. If traveling by motorcoach or minibus, you should begin the quoting/booking process now and choose a transportation company.
If you are traveling by van(s) from your hometown, then begin the quoting/booking process from van rental companies.
Begin the hotel/vacation home resort quoting/booking process. After receiving the quotes, choose a hotel/vacation home resort and book it!
If you have decided to include meals in the trip, begin the group-friendly restaurant, dinner show quoting/booking process. After receiving the quotes, choose which restaurants your group desires and book them!
If shopping is important to your group, this will be a good time to request a meet/greet to obtain discounts from the shopping center/retail store.
If you are a youth group, determine who your chaperones will be which may include parents, teachers, sponsors, etc.
Project the estimated/approximate cost per person.
Announce the tour including the cost per person and start promoting it by means of email, flyers, posters, website, social media, newsletters, etc.
Set up a deposit and payment schedule for each member in your group as they sign up.
If participating in a music/dance/theatre festival, fill out all paperwork and submit.
If you desire travel insurance, now is the time to research, fill out paperwork and submit.6 to 9 Months Prior to DepartureContinue promoting the trip via newsletters, social media, emails, meetings, etc., keeping interest alive in those who have signed up and possibly attracting a few more to sign up.
If you are a school group, scouting troop, youth group etc., begin fundraising activities if needed.
If your trip is an educational tour, create a list of reading materials or study exercises to prepare students for the trip
Distribute a copy of the itinerary to all members of your group (meetings, association, youth group, scouting, religious, reunion, etc.)
Participants should be signed up with deposits paid.
Confirm all reservations including hotel/vacation homes, transportation, attractions, dining, shopping, travel insurance and anything else.4 Months Prior to DepartureContinue promoting the trip via newsletters, social media, emails, meetings, etc., keeping interest alive in those who have signed up and possibly attracting a few more to sign up.
Contact anyone who has shown an interest but still has not committed.
Continue fundraising if needed.
Collect payments per your payment schedule.3 Months Prior to DepartureFinal payments are due from those who have paid deposits, made payments, etc.
Finalize lists of all participants and choose roommates for hotels (if applicable), seating arrangements on the motorcoach (if applicable), and/or seating arrangements on your flight if flying
Purchase all theme park, attraction, water park and dinner show tickets and begin making final payments to your chosen hotel/vacation homes, restaurants, transportation companies, etc.1 Month Prior to DepartureSchedule a final meeting to confirm the details of your trip including packing lists, travel tips and any last-minute information.
Make sure you obtain emergency contact, medical and allergy information from each traveler.
If you are a youth group, make sure parents have your emergency contact information.
Make sure all permission forms, travel insurance forms, etc. are completed for each traveler.As previously stated, the above timeline is a general guide and can differ depending upon your type of group, what destination you have chosen and when you may be traveling. Use this timeline as a guide to map out your trip from the start of planning to the departure date. By employing this step-by-step process, you will be able to successfully plan each stage of your group trip resulting in a smooth tour without any surprises.

The Best Cities in the US & Canada to Do House Flipping

Flipping a house can be a great real estate investment. But in order for you to begin any serious house flipping you need to have a great credit score. Many people are addicted to the house flipping shows on television and are really interested in learning how to flip a house. If you really want to learn how to flip a house there are many places you can go for information. There are websites and you can even find seminars at your local community college or hotel conference room to learn the art of house flipping. But the best way is to find someone who has been doing it for a while and see if you can work for them.

Flipping properties is when an investor purchases a house, fixes it up and/or brings it to code and then sell it for a reasonable profit. The process of flipping properties has created a huge rush in the real estate market. Both the United States and Canada have a number of cities that would be great for flipping a house.

In the United States there are ten cities that are great for flipping homes. These cities are: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Raleigh NC, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Boston, NY City, and last but not least Portland. Now we move on to Canada. The best cities in Canada for flipping homes are: Calgary & Saskatewan.

All of these cities have great potential when it comes to flipping homes. But as with any investment you need to do your research and be careful. With the low cost of homes now it could be better than ever to buy homes to flip. You may need to wait a little while until the market kicks back up again to sell the homes. But if you have the money and can afford to wait longer than thirty days to sell you may find yourself with a great investment and a nice fat bank account.

Growth of Security Education in the Medical Industry

I recently had an opportunity to address a group of Security Managers from several large Medical Facilities on the growth of education for security professionals in the health care industry, evaluation of resumes of prospective applicants, and the growth of education in the larger society. The result if that meeting is well worth repeating here.

The group consisted of security directors from several of the largest medical facilities in Western Washington. They ranged in age from their early thirties too well into the baby boomer retirement generation. These were all season professionals with an impressive string of credentials. Yet, they were as perplexed and confused about the future of education and their industry as the general public is about education in general. Our discussion started with a brief overview of how the security professional in the healthcare industry had evolved over the last 100 years. Starting in the 1890s we looked at medical facilities and healthcare professionals. The medical facility of the 1890 east and the early 1900s was largely a nonprofit institution, set up by local or regional political forces to serve the needs of growing population. They consisted of a group of doctors and nurses providing generalized healthcare. The buildings and surrounding structures were largely the result of donations, or tax levies from local towns and counties to create health districts and facilities. The security professional used to protect these facilities was likewise an uncomplicated individual. They were largely young to middle age people who had little more than a high school diploma and primarily used as a night watchman to watch the facilities during low usage times to prevent damage and fire. I then moved the discussion forward to the year 2011 and the modern medical facilities today. Those facilities are generally very complex and sophisticated facilities involving research from areas of nanotechnology and genetics, to the study of many different diseases. They often involved very sophisticated equipment and Computer Systems with millions of dollars being invested in the personnel that will operate these facilities. They are multibillion dollar complexes, profit driven, with huge amounts of physical resources to be protected. Looking at the security professional that is employed in that industry today, we see very little change between the modern individual and the one that existed in the 1800s. They’re still primarily young, with little more than a high school diploma for education and are used primarily to monitor facilities and to prevent fire damage. As I explained to this group of factional managers, we need to move the discussion for security professionals away from the eighteen hundreds model and into the modern age.

I then moved the discussion into the area of the modern security professional and resumes. The first thing I emphasized was that in trying to find people suited for the complex and challenging job of security professionals today, is to not look at the resume as the only item in your selection process. If we are to find the individuals to be able to handle the complexity of modern medical facilities, you need to evaluate the total person in all aspects of their lives. The security professional in the Health Care industry needs to understand not only the complex and very sophisticated computer systems, and research equipment being used, but understand the dynamic and often very challenging personalities that utilize the systems. They need to be part counselor, part psychologist, part financial analyst, part technologist, a physical security expert, and diplomat to handle the egos that they will encounter as they interface with boards of directors and important research personnel, and VIP patients within the facility. The person who will hold these jobs in the future will be the ultimate utility individual. They will have a broad range of skills, and be comfortable in almost any environment. Their background and education must likewise be as diverse as the demands of their job. But this is not the only issue. The healthcare industry must embrace the need to adjust salaries to be commensurate with the changing needs of the industry. This can only be accomplished by making the security professional an integral part of the overall structure of medical facilities. They all agreed that this is something that is vitally necessary, and that they emphasized with their Boards of Directors at every opportunity. Several directors pointed out that they go so far as to try to integrate medical personnel from various departments into the security force of their organizations. This makes security a functional part of the medical facility and not a stand- alone and isolated unit.

The final item we discussed was the overall development of educational systems in criminal justice over the last few years. At a time when the job of the criminal justice professional/ security specialist is changing very dramatically, educational institutions, because of pressure from the Federal Government are moving away from advanced degrees in many areas for these professions. We discussed the changes in Federal Education policy which are now moving for profit institutions away from educating the large sectors of the population and to becoming more selective in the students that they admit in order to meet Federal statistical needs for success rates. This change is closing one of the last doors for large segments of the population to receive an education. In the 1960s, the large research universities moved away from educating high-risk populations under the legal principle of, “educational necessity”, which allowed them to structure their student bodies with complete indifference to the needs of the communities in which they reside. This legal principle eventually trickled down two other colleges and universities a big novel research nature as they too became more dependent on federal loans for their student populations. By the time frame of the 1980s many high-risk students had been directed toward the community colleges which were growing at a rapid rate to meet the demands of baby boomers seeking higher education for job promotion. These institutions were ideally suited for this purpose since most of them had open enrollment policies. Students needed only apply to be accepted. However over the last several decades under pressure for accountability, community colleges began to put in place screening examinations that would identify entry students at been funneled them into remedial courses so that they would be eight to survive in the community college environment. Although this seems innocuous, the reason for doing this was that the students funneled into the remedial courses were not officially on the college’s books, and could not have an impact on their success statistics for Federal Accounting and success. This meant that it became beneficial for the community colleges too not only funnel high risk students into these remedial programs, but to keep them there as long as possible. The result was that many students from the lower economic groups, minorities, and other high risk students often spend years languishing in remedial courses, before they can’t even get into the mainstream courses of their chosen profession. The overall result was very high dropout rates, but rates which did not adversely impact the community colleges because the students were not officially students. The final door left open to the students was the for profit institutions which began to blossom to fill this need.

Today in the Health Care Security Industry, and many other industries, you will find most of their employee provided from for profit institutions. As the government has changed regulation requirements to put pressure of these institutions to hold them more accountable for their expenditure of federal dollars, we’re seeing the institutions shift away from an open door policy, to one of selective exclusion followed by traditional research universities, universities, and community colleges in the past. Large sectors of the American population will be excluded from education as the systems go into place. This means, that the security professionals in the future will be fewer in number, and less diverse. It will become more difficult for managers of security organizations to find those diverse personalities and populations that they need to fill the demanding and sophisticated jobs in their industry. It also means that in this country we will have a population that is divided into two large camps; those that can receive an education, and those that are forever excluded.

As this discussion with the security professionals indicated, changes in education do not occur in a vacuum. They impact all segments of American Society in life. As the changes occur imposed by the Federal Government, they must become aware of how significant the minor changes in rules and regulation impact the overall structure of many professions and the society as a whole. Just as we’re beginning to get the security industry to understand the need for higher level degrees for their security professionals, the Federal government is moving us back to the stone age of education.