A few weeks ago, I got the dreaded fundraiser text message.
You know the one. It was the “please help Sally go to camp by buying this candy bar” text.
First of all – when did parents selling become the new norm?
Aren’t the kids themselves supposed to do the selling?
Isn’t the point of a fundraiser to teach entrepreneurship, teamwork and follow through?
Insert <back in my day...> comment here.
Anyway, I digress…
Since Matt and I do not have kids, we are the designated aunt & uncle who buy ALL THE THINGS. Cookie dough, wrapping paper, popcorn, magazines… you name it, we’ve bought it.
However, my years living in NYC taught me to abhor STUFF. When you live in 600 square feet, you quickly learn to prioritize what is needed and what is not.
Most of us don’t NEED more wrapping paper, garbage bags and most of all, cookie dough. Open any magazine or read any website; you’re likely to see at least one articile espousing the importance of Experiences over Things or quality family time.
Back to the fund raising: I hate to say no. Especially when the child is doing the hustlin’.
However, we just don’t need more STUFF.
Enter the travel fundraiser… TA DA!
If you are in a school group, church group, charity or alumni organization, Alpaca Your Bags Travel can help you set up a travel fundraiser that will knock people’s socks off.
Travel fundraising can work two different ways:
Option 1: Group Travel (set itinerary)
This is probably what most people envision when they think of fundraiser travel. In this option, the travel agent partners with the group leader to choose a designated cruise or specific dates at an All Inclusive resort. At Alpaca Your Bags Travel, we negotiate special “comps” i.e. free stuff and amenities that can be distributed to your group OR redeemed as cash value for your fundraising efforts.
Amenities can include things like cash credit in your travelers’ ship account, free accommodations for the group leader, free cocktail parties and events or more. It can also include cold, hard cash for your fundraiser. WIN-WIN!
This is good for one-off fundraising events, like an annual drive. It’s also good for events where you want to travel *with* your group to build camaraderie, team building or just to make memories.
Pros: Easy and quick to set up, easy to explain
Cons: Set itinerary, group must travel together
Option 2: Open Ended Travel Fundraising
As the name describes, this one is a bit more flexible. In this option, the travel agent negotiates special rate and fundraising amenity with a particular resort chain or tour operator. The group leader and the travel agent partner to offer ANY dates to the group members.
For example, we can negotiate a special deal with Palace resorts that has no specific date or location. Your group can earn fundraising credit *any time* a member uses a special promo code on any date or location.
This option is good when you have a large group and difficulties getting everyone to agree on the same date and itinerary. However, this one does take more time to negotiate. It also may require a year-long commitment or more.
Pros: Flexibility for your travelers, groups do not need to travel together
Cons: Longer set up time, typically requires annual commitment
Both of these options have big payoffs. We know a college alumni group that raised over $60,000 in 2 years using these fundraising methods.
The best part? If you’re the group leader, you don’t have to do ANYTHING! The travel agent does all of the work! The Alpaca Your Bags Travel team can create marketing materials, attend group meetings, handle travel arrangements and more. We can also set up electronic tracking so you know exactly what you’ve raised at any time.
Are you interested in learning more about travel fundraising? Would you like to make wrapping paper and cookie dough a distant memory?
Contact us today to get started!
Have you seen our ads about the GROUP CRUISE on Carnival Freedom?
If you have, you already know it's an amazing deal. You might even be ready to book!
With reduced deposits, reduced rates and $75 FREE ONBOARD SPENDING CASH, this deal isn't going to last long.
Some travel agents will hold group cruise events at a restaurant at a bar. Like our name, we like to be a little different. in this crazy busy life, we know everyone is busy! Instead of asking you to come to us, we are going to come to you in the comfort of your very own laptop :)
For anyone who is cruise curious, we're offering a live Q&A Webinar on Sunday, June 5!
Whether you're a cruise veteran or a brand newbie, you'll definitely want to join.
From the comfort of your home, you can watch our LIVE presentation about this can't-miss trip.
In 30 minutes, we will cover:
When is the fun? Next Sunday, June 5 at 2PM!
Wear your pajamas, we won't judge!
CLICK HERE to sign up!
When my fiancé Matt and I got engaged, we debated many options for our wedding:
Did we want a big, traditional church wedding?
A small, quirky farmhouse affair?
No wedding at all? (Hey, eloping is low stress!)
After weighing the choices, a destination wedding was at the top of our list.
We aren’t the only ones. According to The Knot, nearly 25% of weddings in 2014 were destination weddings. Is a destination celebration right for you? Here are three signs to find out.
Three BIg Signs a Destination Wedding Is Right For You
You Want a Smaller Guest List
Don’t want to invite everyone and their Aunt Sally? A traditional guest list can quickly spiral out of control, causing tension and stress. If you envision a more intimate celebration of close family and friends, a destination wedding can limit the guest list without much conflict.
Worried about leaving someone out? Compromise with a casual, at home celebration upon your return.
You Have a Limited Budget
It seems counter-intuitive, but a destination wedding can actually help control costs. The average cost of a traditional at-home wedding has skyrocketed to nearly $32,000, excluding a honeymoon. The average cost of a destination wedding? Only $20,000, though many do it for much less (including me!).
How can a destination wedding help you save? First, limiting the guest list automatically saves on food, alcohol and entertainment costs. Second, a destination wedding offers a romantic scenic backdrop, reducing the costs of décor, flowers and other additions. Finally, combining a destination wedding with an extended honeymoon consolidates travel costs and saves money.
If you have concerns about controlling costs for your guests, a travel agent is essential. Distance, the availability of direct flights, a resort’s distance from the airport and nearby entertainment options all contribute to your guests’ share of the travel bill. A skilled travel agent can suggest locations that are affordable for guests of all ages and incomes.
You’ve Been To A Dozen Boring Weddings and Want Something Unique
Oh look, it’s the same Pinterest Wedding. Again. Sound Familiar?
A destination wedding is a great way to express your unique personalities.
But don’t limit your thinking to the beach! For destination locales, choices abound.
Did any of these Three Big Signs appeal to you?
For all of the reasons above, my fiancé and I chose a beautiful location in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Nearly 60 friends and family will celebrate with us next April. Whatever you decide, communication is key. It is vital to ensure that you and your mate are on the same page about what type of celebration is right for you and your guests.
At Alpaca Your Bags, we cater to the low-key brides and grooms who want a unique way to celebrate their commitment to each other. If your style is more “party” than “prissy,” let’s get started!
Source: The Knot Real Weddings Survey
So why should I use a travel agent anyway? That's a common question and I want to address it head on. Here are my top tips for when you should trust your vacation to a professional travel agent:
1. You're Planning a Group Trip: Planning a family reunion? Want a destination wedding? Organizing a church or volunteer trip? When coordinating for several people, it is almost always easier to leave logistics to a professional. You will thank me when dear Aunt Sally wants to change her flight for the third time or when Uncle Billy can't find his passport information. Even better? Agents have access to group rates and excursions that can't be booked by the general public.
2. You Want to Travel Internationally: If you'd like to travel internationally and you've never visited your destination, travel agents can help navigate (pun intended!) the endless options. Where should you go? What is the best time of year? What are the "can't miss" attractions? Travel Agents can also advise on the best Travel Insurance to help you travel safely and protect your precious investment.
3. You Want a Cruise: While they are one of the most popular ways to travel, cruises can be complex to book. What port is best? What type of stateroom should I get? What do you mean, upgraded dining? Am I supposed to tip? Am I a Carnival person or a Royal Caribbean person? What is a river cruise? It can be challenging to understand the cruise industry, especially when each cruise line seems to speak a different language. Agents complete rigorous training and receive special certifications to ensure that you get exactly the type of trip you want.
4. You Want to Get It Right: Are you planning a honeymoon or destination wedding? Do you want to celebrate your retirement with a trip around the world? Don't trust your major milestone travel to faceless online booking site. For moments where the experience matters, talk to a travel agent and explore your many options. A thoughtful agent will listen to your needs, ask questions to help narrow your choices and recommend options that are the best fit for you and your family.
5. You Want Access: Agents have access to packages, amenities and discounts that the general public cannot
book. Examples include onboard credit for cruises, a personal local concierge to help with recommendations, VIP "skip the line" tickets for sightseeing and more. Agents also LOVE to network with other travel agents, comparing notes and asking questions when the need arises. When you want more for your money, talk to a travel agent.
Talk to us: Have you ever used a travel agent? What was your experience?
Answer in the comments below!
Hi, I'm Ashley
Ashley (@ashleysmorris) is a freelance writer, virtual assistant and owner of Alpaca Your Bags Travel.
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