Any director who has registered for their music group to attend the festival, knows about these deadlines dates:
January 19, 2018
- the last date a director can change your group’s attendance count, definitely without a penalty.
- the date a group’s 1st 1/2 Payment of Total Festival Charges should be received by the festival office
- the last day a group could cancel their entire festival registration, and get back any previous payments made, except the non-refundable deposit.
February 23, 2018
- the last date a director can decrease their group’s attendance count. A change that decreases the previous count by more than 10% has a penalty. Any request to increase a group’s attendance count, is subject to availability.
- the date a group’s Final Payment should be received by the festival office.
- the last last date a director can complete their online information, and their students can register online, without a penalty.
- the last day to substitute a person with another person, without the travel protection plan coverage having a charge to provide.
Hopefully, the festival’s choice of not implementing earlier and more frequent partial payments is beneficial for you and your students. Results of fall season and holiday fundraisers, and each member’s saving for the trip should be better known after the New Year, and should assist in your providing accurate attendance counts in December and attendance revisions in January. However, the festival’s choice of not requiring payments until January and February has one major challenge: The festival has contractual deadlines to either pay or cancel arrangements with its vendors, only DAYS after our groups’ payment due dates. A group director will have an online invoice and plenty of email reminders of the payment due dates. But the payments must ARRIVE on or before the due dates!
Sounds easy enough right? Almost all our music group directors have no problems meeting the deadlines we have established. Unfortunately, some directors can unknowingly create unfavorable situations for themselves, with how they coordinate these with students. If you have not planned a student trip before, or want to avoid as many hassles as possible, take a look at these 2 topics:
1. Create and enforce a “trip commitment” policy with all students and adults planning to attend the festival. Since you agreed to meet the festival’s deadlines, you must establish a policy for your students and adults to follow as well.
Create a trip commitment policy form! Think about these things:
- Explain you are implementing a trip commitment policy, so you will have an organized method of knowing exactly which persons you are planning the trip for. This is important for planning any type of transportation, overnight lodging, and even the makeup of your own performing ensemble(s). If some persons cannot commit to attend initially, maybe you could include them later, if it were possible, but no guarantee. Meanwhile, you can successfully plan now, for those persons who can now commit to attend, and pay as agreed. With a “trip commitment” policy in place, your task of planning a trip will be much more manageable!
- Think about what payment deadlines you want your students to follow. Do not give your students and adults the same deadline as the festival’s dates! That will have you making a late payment, and possibly lose your reservations. At a minimum, have your students and adults deadlines at least a couple weeks before each of your deadlines to pay the festival, to have time for you to prepare a check, mail it, and have the festival office receive it on time, to avoid late penalties.
- Some directors will require all trip payments be made prior to the Christmas/ New Year’s holiday break, while some directors will require full payment immediately following the holiday break. Why? Those directors know with 100% accuracy who’s attending or not, because money speaks the loudest. This allows the director plenty of time to revise attendance counts and forward collected funds, well before any festival deadlines. If a director allows their group members to make a final trip payment after January 19th, there is always a risk of some persons not being able to pay their final payment.
- Explain that “grown-up responsibilities” begin right now with your trip commitment policy and form. You have a responsibility to fulfill, which also requires their responsibility. Explain what happens, or what financial penalty occurs if anyone has to cancel for any reason. Explain that anyone who must cancel their trip, will simply lose their money paid. You can allow for them to find another substitute person, to buy them out, if you are willing to do some legwork yourself. A student or adult who fails to honor their trip commitment, must own up to the consequences, and you cannot be responsible for accepting everyone else’s consequences despite what challenges they may have.
On your trip commitment form, think about including these things:
- Provide a deadline date for the trip commitment form to be returned to you, signed by both student and parent. Require a non-refundable deposit accompany the returned form. With this in place, you will then have a pretty accurate count of the number of students and adults to begin planning for transportation, overnight lodging arrangements , and also your own performing ensembles.
- Provide a trip description. Explain in detail everything the trip includes, and what it doesn’t.
- Provide the expected total trip cost, or a trip cost range, depending on the number of persons that ultimately commit to attend (see below).
- Explain how a full motor coach will cost each person less, when compared to the same motor coach, with fewer persons. Some directors will limit the number of persons going on a trip to 1,2, or 3 filled bus capacities only. Give a worst case scenario (highest possible trip cost) and best case scenario (lowest possible trip cost)
- Provide all trip payment deadlines, and the consequences if those deadlines are not met. (For example, most directors will not refund any prior payments when a trip commitment is broken for any reason).
- Provide the deadline all persons attending must complete their personal online registration. (You can monitor this yourself)
2. Oops! I didn’t read this page, and I didn’t create a trip commitment policy. What should I do now?
Hopefully, you have at least established payment deadlines that allow you to meet the festival’s deadline. If not, you need to go back to your students and adults and explain you overlooked your payment deadlines, and things must change for them.
The easiest method for you to establish, will be to have everything (all payments, online registrations) due immediately after the holidays. This way, prior to January 19th, you know 100% who is attending, and who’s not. You adjust your attendance count and pay for everyone in your group that has paid. You could possibly add more persons later, through an increased attendance count, to assist those persons who might be able to pay later. There is a small risk of those attendance increases not being accommodated by the festival. But at least you have not overestimated your attendance count, and not in jeopardy of paying for persons who cannot attend.
Next best method would be to require at least a 1/2 payment due immediately after the holidays. Make it clear with all persons who have paid 1/2, that you are going to include them within the Jan 19th attendance count, and if they cannot make the final payment in early February, they will lose their 1/2 payment. You see, it would be best to not include these persons if there were any jeopardy of them not attending. One more note with this scenario. Even if you mailed a payment based on particular number of persons, (for the festival to receive by Jan 19th), you could still reduce your attendance count on or before Jan 19th.