Overnight band trips can be magical. They can create life-long memories for your students and oh yeah… they’re an extremely effective recruiting and retention tool for you. However, every overnight band trip needs a rooming list, and when you’re in charge of making one, it’s natural to want to seek some guidance.
This article will break down a band director’s process as well as share some insights from the tour operator side to help you create your next rooming list a little easier.
Start With Logistics And Adults
“The number of adult travelers is going to vary more than your number of student travelers.” Trey Burns, director in charge of transportation and accommodations for his band said. “I recommend starting with that.”
If performance is involved in your overnight trip, he encouraged directors to start by asking basic logistic questions about the performance. For instance, how many adults will be needed to move the props? How many trucks and drivers will be necessary to transport those props?
To find answers to those questions, Burns recommends getting your boosters and band families involved early and often.
“Once you get the conversation going with your boosters, you’ll learn who needs to go, who can go, and who wants to go. That’ll be a very important foundation of your rooming list.”
Get A Rough Idea Of Your Student Numbers
“I start with the largest student roster possible, even before grade eligibility. Then I sort them by male and female and divide each gender by 4 to get a rough estimate of how many student rooms we’ll need.” Burns said. “For our last trip, of a 369 student band, 10 wound up not going, so our initial estimate was pretty accurate.”
Let Your Students Have Input
One of the few elements that can tarnish the trip for your student is if they feel like they can’t hang out with their friends. Be open to students leading the way on creating the rooming list and allowing them to tell you who’d they like to room with.
“I leverage technology.” Burns said. “I use Cognito Forms to allow students to submit their roommate preferences.”
He went on to explain the nuances of his approach in soliciting student input.
“I allow one representative per student room to scan the QR code to the Cognito form, then they get to select their name and add two additional names for a total of three students in one student room. That gives me the ability to fill in the fourth spot however I need based on preferences, packages, remaining students, etc..”
No matter which platform you use, there’s one feature he views as essential.
“Students are selecting their roommate choices from a preloaded list. Once you select a student name, you can’t select it again so that students don’t get put into more than one room.”
But what if you prefer the liveliness of in-person roommate selection? We recommend telling students that roommate selections will be done on Thursday and Friday (select a few days in the future) and to come to class having decided who they will room with. Then, during the designated days, post a few sign-up sheets around the classroom (having more than one will make it go a little quicker). Then, similar to Burns’ approach, instruct your students to select one representative from each room to write in the names of their preferred roommates.
As mentioned, there will usually be students who don’t have all of their roommates selected. Let them know it’s fine to sign up as a group of three, two, or even by themselves, and that the remaining bed-spaces will be assigned for them. This is a great way to make new friends.
When tour operators organize band trips, students and chaperones normally have the option to select what kind of package they want to purchase. A package is mostly determined by how many people that traveler will share a hotel room with and is usually referred to as follows:
- Quad= 4 to a room
- Triple= 3 to a room
- Double= 2 to a room
- Single= 1 to a room
Typically students stay four to a room and adults often stay two per room so that they have their own bed. Occasionally, students will register for double occupancy and pay a little more to have their own bed. When this happens, we encourage them to choose a roommate who is also willing to pay the double occupancy rate.
If you create a rooming list and the occupancy does not match the package for which they signed up, don’t sweat it. When that happens with a Green Light trip, we make the necessary parties aware of the discrepancy and either change the package or adjust the roommates, whichever the travelers prefer.
Understand The Timeline
“The timeframe when hotels and tour operators ask for rooming lists is almost never when band directors are ready to provide them.” Burns said.
The rooming list timeline works this way so tour operators and hotels can secure the proper number of rooms for your band. Especially on the tour operator side, we’ll often need time to adjust the travelers’ tour packages to reflect the accurate cost of their trip before they pay in full.
Of course we understand some rooming lists may never really be “complete”. After all, teenage friendships have their ups and downs, and sometimes roommate swaps needs to happen shortly before departure, or even during the trip. If and when that happens, Green Light is always ready to make the necessary changes to make sure everyone is having the best time possible.
Know What Happens With Incomplete Rooms
When you’re finishing up with a rooming list, you’ll see it’s highly unlikely that the number of boys and girls is perfectly divisible by four. That means it’s very likely that you’ll have incomplete rooms (i.e.: a room with 2 female students that paid for “quad” packages).
Some tour operators will charge those travelers more money to cover the cost of their actual accommodations. However, this can confuse and upset travelers, so Green Light’s happy solution is to build a budget for incomplete rooms into the cost of the trip knowing full-well this is likely to occur, which saves you from having those awkward conversations. In short, always be aware of what the plan is in the event of incomplete rooms.
Avoid Pitfalls, Increase Magic.
Start with performance logistics (if applicable) and how many adults you’ll need to travel. Then harness your student’s input, remain mindful of packages, be aware of when you’ll need to provide your rooming list and why, and know what will happen in the event of an incomplete room. By implementing this advice, creating rooming lists can be a lot easier for your band’s next overnight trip, which will make for a magical experience for you and your band!
Special thanks to our business partners Green Light Group Tours and Associate Band director of Permian High School, Trey Burns, for this article. Green Light specializes in exciting and educational travel experiences for your students.
It’s not too late to plan a trip for 2024! Consider a multitude of other destinations to excite and enrich your performance groups in the upcoming year. Either way, Green Light loves to see groups traveling, performing, and reaching their goals, and we’re happy to assist in that process however possible.
Green Light Group Tours is providing this FREE download of tried-and-true tips and suggestions for creating the best travel experience ever! Instant download available HERE. Ready to request a quote for your next band trip? You can do that HERE.