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The scam stories are out there: Teachers and students have lost money from booking tours with unaccredited tour operators. Student travel is important, and there are student and youth tour operators dedicated to fostering integrity and tourism.

Many expert tour operators that specialize in student and youth travel are members of the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA). These tour operators are recognized for integrity and professionalism; the companies follow a strict code of business standards and are recognized by the education community for providing high-quality learning experiences.

Most SYTA member tour operators are identified by SYTA’s logo on the company’s website and other materials. SYTA also provides a list of its tour operators at syta.org/find-a-tour-operator.

Before you book a trip with a tour operator, do your research. The following questions will help you ensure your students’ experience, safety and financial security.

Does the tour operator adhere to a code of ethics?

Sometimes, packaging includes images of products with a note that the picture is not the actual size. Does a tour operator’s advertising of its tours reflect the actual experience? How can you be certain that you and your students are getting the educational experience you’re paying for? SYTA tour members follow a strict code of business ethics including honest and integrity, truth in advertising, and a commitment to satisfaction.

Is the tour operator recognized by the education community?

Educational tours are more than sightseeing; they involve experiential learning. Some school districts require that educators use a SYTA member tour operator in order to travel.

How long has the tour operator been in business?

How much experience does the company have? Active SYTA member tour operators are required to have been in business for at least three years and to provide travel for at least 1,000 youths each year.

Does the tour operator have a consumer protect plan?

The unexpected can happen. Consumer protection plans ensures that your students’ safety, healthy and financial security are never in jeopardy.

Is the company connected?

Are you getting the most from your experience? SYTA member tour operators are connected with the student and youth travel industry and are often able to get special rates and benefits at hotels, museums, theme parks, arts venues and more.

You and your students work hard for this experience—it’s important to invest in a tour operator who will help you get the most from the tour.

Written by Hemisphere Educational Travel