Tour planning

Who builds your EF tour behind the scenes?

Time and again, we hear the same thing from the teachers who travel with us: The EF difference really is in our people. There are the obvious superstars, like a culturally connected Tour Director who travels with your group 24 hours a day while you’re on tour. But what about the silent supporters? The friends you may never meet, who work equally as hard to craft a life-changing experience for you and your students?

At times, these EF staffers are working several years in advance of your trip. They keep your tour prices low and your overall itineraries rich by securing everything from the best local guides to immersive activities that take you beyond the beaten path. Other times, they’re reading all your on-tour evaluations (yes, every single one!) as you’re submitting them. Because the only surprises we want to see are the ones we’ve planned for you.

So, who’s really making your tour possible behind the scenes? It’s a larger team than you think, and they are all just as awesome as the EF people you already know.

The future finders

If your Tour Consultant is the expert on building travel programs within your specific school district, our Sourcing & Contracting Managers are the authorities on each of the regions you’re traveling to. Armed with a mix of in-depth knowledge and proximity to these places, they’re responsible for tracking down new hotels and bus drivers, restaurants that can seat 40+ people, educational activities, and more—in both the busiest cities and not-yet-trending destinations. You name it, they find it. Because wherever you decide to go 18 months from now, this team knows they need to connect with local businesses today to make it happen.

The tour architects

With over 250 itineraries to choose from, do you ever wonder who designs all those days out on the road? Most EF tours actually start in the minds of our Market and Product Development Teams. Tasked with overseeing either a portion of the world or a swath of our specialty tours (like Service Learning or STEM), each of these subject matter experts are skilled in the art of tour design and travel forecasting. They also value input, which is why you can often find them testing out new trips with teachers or building relationships with local communities and NGOs. Not only do Market and Product Development update and evolve our existing itineraries, but they also always have an answer to the magic question: Where to next?

The teacher-y team

On top of managing our partnership with Southern New Hampshire University and EF’s own rigorous academic standards (we’re accredited, just like your school!), our Education Team collaborates with Market and Product Development to propose tour updates that connect to the student-centered practices happening in your classroom. By hiring former educators and consulting with global education advocates regularly, EF is able to tackle topics and build tours that align with what your school is interested in—whether that’s sustainability or salsa dancing.

See all the ways students can earn credit and prepare for college as part of their travel experience. Oh, and another way this team keeps busy? By creating professional learning opportunities just for you.

The ultimate wingmates

Based on their name, you’d assume Travel Operations handles all things planes, trains, and automobiles. But booking flights for our travelers is a full-time job—dozens of them, actually. Ahead of securing anyone a window seat, these EF staffers pair up educational tour groups from across the country. By matching smaller school groups together, we’re able to offer the best possible tour prices to our travelers. Plus, this aspect of group travel gives students insight into how different life can be just a few states away. Once your group is sorted, the team gets to work planning the ideal flight itinerary from your nearest gateway (that’s “Ops” talk for airport).

The itinerary owners

Your Tour Experience Manager is the detail-decipherer who oversees your itinerary from start to finish. They only focus on a select group of tours so they understand them inside and out, and their job is all about making you happy. Before you leave, they piece every part of your itinerary together: arranging hotels, booking entrances, and scheduling transfers with an eye toward efficiency. And after you take off, they track how your trip is going. By reading your evaluations every day, your Tour Experience Manager can take what you liked in Rome and apply that insight by the time you reach Athens. Even better, the entire team reviews their tours multiple times a year to see if they can spot areas where permanent improvements should be made.

The safety officers

We take the safety of our groups seriously. While your Tour Director serves as a first line of defense should anything unexpected happen when you’re traveling, backup is also a part of the deal. EF’s Safety & Incident Response Team is strategically based in our Boston, Panama, Tokyo, and Zurich offices to accommodate for all time zones. Available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, they are trained to react quickly if our travelers need help. EF also maintains a local presence in every destination we travel to, so we can easily engage on-the-ground support during those just-in-case moments.


The entire team at EF is always evolving what we do and where we go (both in North America and even further from home). We’re also constantly reevaluating what our travelers see and how they reflect on what they’re seeing. Because if we make learning relevant for students today, tomorrow will look different in all the best ways.

Topics: How it works

Kim Hart

Kim is a senior copywriter at EF. In a past life, she wrote about everything from online poker to deodorant. (She likes writing about educational travel better.) When not at work, you can most likely find Kim on the internet or eating cheese.

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