Now that you have your faith-based travel group, how do you help it to grow? Recruitment is an essential part of any travel group, since people age, move away or just get too busy to continue to travel.
So whether you work for a specific church or with a number of local churches, it is helpful to use church events to find new people interested in religious trips. The larger your network of members grows within one church, the easier it becomes to enlist new members.
Many faith-based travel directors allow members to invite friends of family members to future trips or group events. Whether guests have officially joined your church or not, new faces can easily turn into new travel members if they catch the excitement they feel from the other participants.
If one of your members wants to bring his neighbor on your next tour, that neighbor should always be invited if there is room. Even if he is not officially part of the church you work for, experiencing the fellowship of the other church members on the trip can sometimes lead travelers to want to join that church anyway. So you shouldn’t always limit your trips to only church members.
To encourage more involvement in your travel group, host social events. Monthly luncheons, pancake dinners or other events can not only keep your members up-to-date and excited about new tours coming up, but they can also be perfect opportunities to encourage your members to bring a guest.
Members who have traveled with each other before will be glad of an excuse to interact with other travelers they may not otherwise see. This social time can increase your group’s closeness, making them even more likely to want to travel together. However, always make sure to stress that they bring someone to these events that may or may not be a part of the church, since the members may not think of it on their own.
Keep invitations to these events in the church bulletins and other church materials, since people who are already involved in the church will more likely come if they see announcements about it.
But you shouldn’t limit yourself to attending events you plan. Make sure you have a presence at some of the other church events. Churches often have numerous committees and groups already formed, so encouraging these pre-formed groups to come on one of your trips may be easier to do than talking to people one-on-one. If you get an entire affinity group excited about an exotic destination, they will usually feel more comfortable signing up.
Be sure to emphasis which kind of faith-based trip would work best for that group. For example, sell your youth-focused trips to youth groups, Holy Land trips to Biblical study groups and the more socially oriented groups to others.
A good way to get started with this type of recruiting is to contact each group’s leader and see if they would be okay with you doing a short presentation or just passing out your travel club’s information. For instance, contact the church-decorating association’s leader to see if you could have an opportunity to talk about travel to that group. Also, see if the leader is interested in coming to one of your travel meetings to find members for the decorating association.
Spread the word
If you are interested in reaching a wider audience for your faith-based group than just your church, go to regular community events to hand out information about your trips. Farm shows, antique fairs, ethnic celebrations – take your pick, because there are a variety of events out there.
A good place to start is by going to your local chamber of commerce or convention and visitors bureau to see what events are coming up. Having a booth out at these events can broaden your group to include people across the town who might love to go to the Holy Land, but never had the opportunity.
Community events centered on charity, such as walk-a-thons organized to raise money for a good cause, can sometimes attract a lot of interested people. For events like this, you could even encourage your members to join a team and come as a group. Host a hot dog roast finale or something similar to get your members excited about attending as a group.
Another way to bulk up your travel group is to incorporate more than one church into your travel group. Even if you only work for one church, see if your church would be interested in hosting joint trips with other church members to foster fellowship between different Christians. This can promote even more opportunities for you to plan trips.
As always, the best marketing tool is usually word of mouth. If your faith-based travel members have been happy with their past trips, they will always tell other people who can turn out to be future lifelong members in your group.