April 8, 2015     Tori Cook

A First-Timer’s Timeline for Planning a Performance Tour

Orchestra in formal attire posing for a group photo in front of the Floralis Genérica (a massive metal sculpture of a flower) in Argentina

For first-time travelers, planning your ensemble’s performance tour can be an overwhelming experience. Never fear—we’re here to help! This post will alleviate your workload by giving you a specific timeline for planning your performance tour from start to finish.

When should you start planning?

The time needed to plan a performance tour depends on the destination, ensemble type and group’s needs, though a general rule of thumb is to start planning 1-2 years out from your departure date for overseas travel. For groups looking to perform in prestigious venues, it is suggested to allow at least 18 months so you can submit your performance application to the venues in time. For domestic tours or tours to Canada, 6 months to 1 year is usually a sufficient amount of time to plan your trip.

What to Do: 1-2 Years Out

Obtain a Quote

Contact a performance tour company and speak with a tour consultant who can help put together a customized itinerary for your ensemble. Work together on budget and itinerary until you find the perfect package for your group. Plan with confidence knowing that Encore offers the industry’s best protection plans and director benefits.

Announce & Recruit

Once you have decided on an itinerary, it’s time to announce the tour to your group. Some performance tour companies will have online tools for you to use that make recruiting a breeze. Send out the information to your group and have participants start registering for the tour!

Submit Your Publicity Kit

A publicity kit for your ensemble is extremely important, and must be top priority for all ensemble directors. Send your director/ensemble’s biography, recordings, photos, etc. urgently to your performance tour company. This information is vital for them to start confirming with the venues, festivals, and artistic collaborations in which you will participate/perform. Some venues will not accept ensembles without receiving this information well in advance, so it is important to send your publicity kit as soon as possible.

Download our Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Ensemble’s Press Kit!

The Notre-Dame de Paris on a sunny day, surrounding by green trees

What to Do: 9 Months Prior To Departure

All Participants Obtain Passport

All passengers traveling to destinations outside of the United States, including Canada, must have valid passports. Obtaining a passport should be first priority for every traveling passenger. It is something you do not want to delay!

Keep in mind that some countries require that passports expire no less than six months after the date of your final day overseas. If you have questions about the validity of passports, contact the consulate of the country you are visiting for detailed information.

Participants Obtain Visas (if applicable)

Visas for U.S. citizens are required for travel to Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, and other destinations. It is important to note that visas are necessary for passengers connecting through these countries, even if they are not the final destination.

Non-U.S. citizens should check with the local embassy of each country visited or connected through, as well as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, to obtain the proper entry, transit, and exit visas. Visas may be necessary for non-U.S. citizens connecting through other countries, even if those countries are not the final destination.

If you are traveling with minors, anyone under 18 years of age should obtain a letter of consent signed by a legal guardian. It is a good idea to photocopy all letters of consent, along with passports/visas, and bring them on tour.

What to Do: 6 Months Prior to Departure

Send Your Performance Specifications/Logistical Needs

At this point, you should have a pretty good idea of which passengers are attending. Start compiling a list of your logistical performance needs, such as instrument rentals needed, instruments traveling, piano requirements, rehearsal time needed, etc. Some performance tour companies have a simple form you can fill out with the required information. Submit this as soon as possible to your performance tour company.

Encore tour in China

What to Do: 3 Months Prior to Departure

Finalize Passenger List

All passengers should be registered and paid in full for your tour by at least 90 days prior to departure. Keep in mind that flights typically require 90% utilization at 90 days out, so you should remove anyone who plans to cancel prior to the 90 days.

Submit Names for Flight Split (if applicable)

If your group is required to utilize more than one flight for any portion of your trip, you should submit a roster for each flight based on the number of seats available. If instruments are being split, you should include that information as well.

Confirm Your Final Performance Specifications

Now that your passenger list is finalized, cross-check all of your passengers with the appropriate instrument/equipment needs submitted earlier. Work with your tour company on any changes needed.

Confirm Your Final Repertoire

Submit your final repertoire to your performance tour company no less than 90 days prior to your trip. Be sure to specify composer, arrangement and musical movement when possible as well as approximate timings of each piece.

Please note that some venues may require your final repertoire earlier than 90 days, in which case your performance tour company will discuss this with you ahead of time. If you’re looking for inspiration, Encore offers free access to their repertoire library so you can view the actual repertoires used by some of Encore’s past traveling ensembles!

What to Do: 2 Months Prior to Departure

Submit the Bus Split (if applicable)

If it is required for your group to travel on more than one bus while overseas, you will be asked to submit a roster of who is to be on which bus. Your performance tour company can tell you the number of buses and seats per bus. The final rosters are important as they assist the Tour Managers with accounting for each passenger while overseas.

Complete the Rooming List

Your performance tour company will send the rooming configuration provided at each hotel. You should then submit a list of how your participants would like to be roomed together.

Assess Your Oversized Instruments

If you are traveling with large instruments, check with the airline to see if you will incur fees. The fees are dependent upon the airline.

Teacher instructing child wearing colorful traditional clothing playing violin outdoors in a small village

What to Do: 1 Month Prior to Departure

Complete an Emergency Contact List

Choose one person to act as the primary U.S. contact for communication between the group and their families. This person can be a participant’s family member, a school administrator, or a member of your family not traveling with you on the tour. Then send the performance tour company this person’s name/number/email along with each passenger’s emergency contact information.

Do one more cross-check to make sure everyone has a consent form (for minors under 18). Your performance tour company may also require their own form that passengers must sign.

Check and Send the Passport List

Do one last check that everyone has their passport. Make sure passengers send their passport information (#, expire date, issue date, country) to the performance tour company. Passport information is now necessary in most overseas hotels. Your performance tour company will send over this information to the hotels.

What to Do: 2 Weeks Out

Around this time, your performance tour company will have your itinerary finalized. Send the final itinerary to your group along with a packing list and some destination tips to generate excitement! Download our sample packing list for musicians!

What to Do: On Tour

Enjoy yourself! Let your tour manager take care of you and your passengers. They are your “go-to” for any of your needs while on tour. Be sure to post photos and stories from your experiences overseas!

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