Image of Megan Barrington | Director of Market Development

How EF creates educational tours
for students

What goes into creating a tour at EF? With over 350 itineraries to choose from, our specialized Market and Product Development Team keeps busy by travelling all around the world and designing educational tours.

But what is it that sets our tours apart? (Hint: It’s because we build our tours with educators’ goals in mind.) We spoke with Megan Barrington, Director of Market Development at EF Educational Tours Canada, to learn about what she does, how she tests and builds new tours, how EF creates educational tours, and why educator input is so important to our itineraries.

How do EF tours make an impact on classroom learning?

Travel has a special ability to make classroom learning come to life for students and impact the development of young people. EF tours provide opportunities to directly link in-classroom concepts to real-life examples and contexts.

Our tour design process is guided by our Global Learning Model. Travel encourages students to explore life skills and global competency development (critical thinking, problem solving, communication, global citizenship, cross-cultural understanding, etc.). All of this connects to educational priorities found across curricula in Canada.

Image of Global Learning Model

What’s the process of creating a new EF educational tour?

A lot of our inspiration for product innovation comes from the time we spend with educators and school administrators listening to their needs, their current realities, and the challenges they’re facing. We also make it a priority to keep our finger on the pulse of current trends in the Canadian education landscape.

We then work with our in-house Itineraries and Education teams to research destinations, activities, and educational experiences that make up a tour designed to meet the outcomes of our Global Learning Model and to create meaningful impact for our travellers.

Once we feel confident about the tour design, we collaborate with our Operations teams to ensure the tour and activities are safe and feasible for student groups. If it’s a brand-new destination for us, an EF staff member will be sure to visit in person.

Touring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights with the Museum’s Education Team (left) Learning about the local Bribri Indigenous community on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast (right)

Touring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights with the Museum’s Education Team (left) Learning about the local Bribri Indigenous community on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast (right)

What’s your experience been planning tours on the ground, most recently in Winnipeg and Costa Rica?

Being able to visit and explore a place I’ve never been when scouting possible new locations is vital. You can’t truly get a sense of a place and the quality of the available activities unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Beyond questions of safety and logistics (like bus transfer times, hotels, meals), EF holds a standard for what our tour experiences should look and feel like.

During our visits, we prioritize meeting with local experts, partners, and organizations to learn about educational programming opportunities they can provide our travellers. In Winnipeg, we were lucky to be accompanied by wonderful members of the Winnipeg and Manitoba Tourism Boards, and they highlighted all the amazing activities the city can offer to our EF groups. In Costa Rica, local EF Tour Directors gave a lot of support and guidance on where and what to explore for our scouting visit.

What’s special about the newest tours you’ve created?

The goal of travel is to take you beyond the familiar and immerse yourself in a new location. If an on-tour activity is something that travellers can easily do in their own hometowns, then why invest in a travel experience at all? I hope to create “wow moments” where students experience classroom learning come to life in the “real world”—and that they have a lot of fun doing it.

The new tours we’ve been developing include a lot of exclusive programming that focus on hands-on workshops, access to inspiring professionals, and experiential learning. The tours allow students to explore incredible destinations and sites in an active and immersive way. We’re very excited for groups to experience them!

Topic: Tour Planning

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