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What is your OLLI’s experience with overnight excursions?

Posted on October 21st, 2010 by Anne Cardale, OLLI National Resource Center

Elena Marciano, OLLI at the University of the Pacific, Asks OLLI:

Does your OLLI offer overnight excursions? If so, were they successful? Did they break even? Is your OLLI planning additional overnight trips? Where are some of the places you have visited? What feedback did you receive from your members? Please share your experience.

4 Responses to “What is your OLLI’s experience with overnight excursions?”

  1. #1 by: Thom Clement

    OLLI at George Mason University offers a couple of overnight trips each year, but most of our trips are one-day local excursions in the Washington DC area. Next week, we have a two-day/one night trip planned to four Civil War battlefields in Virginia. Last year, we did a two-day/one night trip to western Pennsylvania to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Falling Waters and Kentuck Knob houses. A couple of years ago, we did a two day/one night trip to Philadelphia, visiting the Franklin Institute and a couple of art galleries. These trips have been popular, although they require much advance preparation for logistics — most of this work is done by enthusiastic OLLI members. We do break even because we determine the cost based on less-than-full charter bus capacity. That way, if we do come close to filling the bus, we actually come out slightly ahead.
    Thom Clement, Executive Director

  2. We’ve visited Italy (custom made itinerary) and Russia (river trip). Those who attended raved about the experience. But we’ve had planned trips canceled for lack of participation to Sicily and Alaska (cruise). The latter was initiated by students in an oceanography class who clamored for it, but steadily dropped out as the time neared. I’ve found that initial interest wains. Our members are too busy with other life events. Day trips in conjunction with classes (e.g., museums, nature) are very popular.

  3. We do primarily single day excursions, though we offered a three day, two night trip in June that was very popular. (We had 44 travelers.) It was to the Brandywine Valley in Delaware/Eastern PA. We priced it so that it would generate some extra revenue. We have our first international trip scheduled for Nov 2011 and already have 20 people registered. I hope to offer a one or two night trip each year.

  4. The OLLI Vice-President, Admin and Finance, Ms. Eleanor Carter, University of Alabama in Huntsville provided the following information in response to the blog:

    “Yes, we’ve done overnight excursions and all have been successful for attendees and for OLLI. We were extremely careful in pricing out the elements so that we broke even while still providing value for the attendees. Deciding about transportation is a big problem. None of the venues were “elegant” but all were acceptable (air conditioning/heat, private baths, etc), and one had all the amenities (TV, phone, etc.) that we found we didn’t miss at all. All attendees were extremely satisfied and ready to go again. That said, it is extremely difficult to find coordinators willing to devote the time (and fetching, lifting and carrying) to pay attention to the details and the follow-through. If you don’t do that yourself, you add to the cost. You need a person in charge who has a clear idea of how they want the trip to go and who is willing to pursue leads and do a LOT of calling in order to get good prices. And you need a second in command to assist. There are turn-key programs you can do but you can’t avoid all the details like waivers and rooming and information flow.

    At OLLI, we usually do excursions with only one or two people, but for longer trips, you need a committee structure to make sure the coordinators aren’t left out of the fun. OLLI’s long weekend trips were to: Highlands, NC for hiking, exploring, and some Appalachian culture with featured presenters like author Thomas Rain Crowe and musicologists from the area; Fairhope, AL on Week’s Bay at “summer camp” with authors like Sonny Brewer (Poet of Tolstoy Park), storytellers and marine biologists; Montgomery, AL to a special production at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, plus a behind the scenes tour. We’d like to do more, but have not been able to complete plans at the price points we wanted and need dedicated trip leaders. You may need some seed money from your organization to put down deposits and reserve speakers but if you’ve done your homework and your paperwork and been diligent, everyone will be happy. Wouldn’t it be fun if each OLLI would put together an excursion model package for their own area (with contacts) that the rest of us could pick and choose from?”

    Eleanor H. Carter
    5720 Jones Valley Drive
    Huntsville, AL 35802

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