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Faith Travel 101 — Preview parties set the mood

Convincing members of a church to embark on a travel adventure can sometimes require the proper persuasion. That’s why some event planners find preview parities the best way to not only give your pitch for the trip, but also to gauge the interest level of possible attendees.

Tour operators have invited potential participants to preview parties for many years. Often the enthusiasm of the travel planner can sell the trip, instead of the actual trip itself. An attitude projecting that the upcoming tour is the “trip of a lifetime” can be more convincing than any itinerary.

Passion is contagious, especially if it convinces church members that they should sign up before the trip sells out.

An important way to raise the excitement about an upcoming trip at a preview party is to set the stage for wherever the group plans to go. If it is to Hawaii, greet attendees with leis, serve pineapple pork and decorate for a festive luau. Or if the destination is Switzerland, serve chocolate and cheese fondue while dressing up in an Alpine folk costume with decorations reminiscent of Heidi.

Even if the destination seems less exotic, there is always a way to spice it up in a familiar way, such as dressing in baseball gear and serving corn for an upcoming trip to Dyersville, Iowa’s Field of Dreams. Anything themed will remind possible participants of the immersive experience that travel offers.

Some travel planners even invite attendees to compete for prizes related to the theme, including one for the best costume reflecting the theme of the trip.

Another easy way to convince church members to jump on board the travel opportunity is with a PowerPoint slideshow. If going with a tour operator, these will be provided to you to either let run in the background of the party or to explain as the pictures roll through. Tour operators presenting the itinerary will sometimes even offer travel discounts to members who sign up for the trip at the party.

If you decide to create your own PowerPoint, be sure to select pictures that not only reflect the familiar sites, but also ones that reflect the details of the trip, such as the blooming flowers, native dress and temperature. These slide shows can also stress both the religious and purely recreational aspects of the trip to ensure guests get a sense of the experience.

Convention and visitors bureaus will often supply photos that reflect the image travel planners are trying to convey. For themed decorations, party stores, paper stores and discount stores often offer eclectic items that might fit your theme perfectly.

An important detail to not forget is the follow-up with church members who didn’t sign up for the trip at the preview party. Reminding potential participants of the fantastic destination and how many seats are left can sometimes give members the nudge they need to set off on an unforgettable journey.