June 20, 2016     Andrew Yaracs

Handling Money for Your Performance Tour


Performance Trip Cost Per Student

Once you have approved your tour package, you can lock in the cost for each student, chaperone and staff member. Most travel companies will provide a number of complimentary packages based upon the number of paying participants. You’ll need to decide how to use those packages and how you will handle your staff and chaperone costs. Most directors use the complimentary packages for their staff and spouses, and provide a reduced trip plan for the chaperones. Your travel representative can assist you with working out these details and a pricing plan.

To confirm your trip, you’ll need to sign a contract and have each participating student pay a non-refundable deposit. Before you sign a contract, check the travel company’s cancellation and refund policy. Your remaining balance will be divided into payments over several months, usually with a final payment due 90 days prior to your departure.

Collecting payments can often be tedious. Some people always procrastinate and pay late. To help avoid late payments, structure your due dates at least two weeks in advance of your scheduled payment to your travel company. Some companies, such as Encore Tours, offer a direct payment option where parents can make their payments and track accounts online. Encore also offers parents the option to sign up for automatic payments where monthly withdrawals are made automatically from a designated account.

If you choose to collect all funds through your ensemble, you should purchase bond insurance to protect your organization from loss of funds through any theft or embezzlement. The amount of money collected for a trip can be significant. Limit the number of people that will handle money and list them in your bond insurance policy. A $50,000 policy should be adequate for most organizations.

Managing Student Accounts

Never allow students to handle money and limit the number of adults to a trusted few who are named in your bond policy. Require a minimum of two authorized signatures on all checks you write and have your financial records audited yearly.

Ask your students to turn in fundraising money and trip payments by check. Cash is harder to track and could easily be misplaced or mishandled. All money should be collected in a sealed envelope identifying what the funds are for—payment, donation or fundraiser—and labeled with the student’s name, grade and section in the ensemble. Never accept a check or cash from a student unless it is in a sealed envelope and properly identified. Maintain a collection box and make it available daily for students to turn in money as needed.

On occasion you may have a few students who are having difficulty making trip payments or participating in fundraising activities due to extenuating circumstance(s). This can be an extremely sensitive and embarrassing situation for the student and their family, and should be handled discreetly in complete confidence. Try to help these students whenever possible. Create a fund to assist needy students. Organize a special project such as a raffle or spaghetti dinner, or look for service clubs or individuals in your community or who might be willing to sponsor a student. I have always been impressed by the amount of generous people in our community that would call and offer to help students who were having financial problems.

Thanks to our guest blogger, former band director Andrew M. Yaracs! Yaracs is the Author of Travel 101: A Band Director’s Guide for Planning Student Travel. Stay tuned for his guest blog series featuring excerpts from his book! Find out more at www.bandtravel101.com.

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