Running a tour, part 1: getting started

Taking your group on tour can be the highlight of your musical year and an amazing experience for all involved but it is a big undertaking and can become stressful, especially for you as the organiser.

To help you in the adventure that is planning, organising and running a tour we’ve written three resources covering some of the key areas.

If you’d like some professional advice from a tour company then a good place to start is with our Premium Corporate Members; Rayburn ToursACFEA Tour Consultants and One Stage, and our Corporate Supporters, Club Europe.

Going on tour: initial plans

Getting your tour plans off the ground can be a daunting prospect, but thinking about your group’s requirements, breaking it down into a few key areas and asking the right questions will help get you started on the right foot.

Tour Company or on your own?

One of the first key decisions to make is whether to use a tour company or not. This guidance is designed to cover all the key questions you should be thinking about when planning a tour whether or not you choose to use a tour company.

There are pros and cons for both approaches and your decision will probably depend on a number of factors; level of knowledge, experience and contacts within your group, time commitments and finances are perhaps the biggest ones.

Time commitment

  • Tour Company: using a tour company can certainly reduce the time commitment required from members of your group and possibly stress
  • On your own: if you have a team of good organisers who will enjoy and rise to the challenge it can be more rewarding planning and organising it all yourself.

Knowledge, experience and contacts

  • Tour Company: they are experts and have done it all before – they can give recommendations and make use of their contacts
  • On your own: sometimes tour companies can only offer tours to certain locations. If you have people who have toured before and have contacts you might be able to tailor your tour more specifically to what your group wants. That said a good tour company will work with you on your chosen destination, rather than trying to fit your group to an off the peg solution.


  • Prices do vary and most tour companies have some flexibility depending on what you want. Generally it will be cheaper to do it on your own – but more work.

Who’s in charge?

There is a lot to organise and having a person or group of people in charge is important. A common approach is to have a tour sub-committee in charge of research and provisional plans. Final decisions could be made jointly with the main committee and/or in consultation with members.

As with most committees, delegation, open and clear lines of communications and a good chair to coordinate the work will always help.

How much input do you want from members?

A tour can bring a group together and be a great shared experience. Getting the wider membership involved in the planning is a great way to develop this.
Consulting in the early stages is definitely a good idea; there is no point planning a tour that no one wants to go on. Certainly when, where and cost are things to consult on (see below).

Whilst it is a good idea to consult members be aware of the dangers of trying to please everyone! There will be lots of different ideas and suggestions but ultimately you can only plan one tour and someone (or a committee) has to be in charge and make decisions.

Members may also want to get more involved in the planning, without being on the sub-committee. Think about some of the smaller areas people could help with; tour t-shirts and finding things to do in the places you visit for example.

When, where and how?

When – this is definitely a good one to consult with members about. Things to think about include:

  • Member availability: school term-time can be a factor here
  • Summer is most common - but are other times preferable?
  • How does the timing fit in with/affect your groups normal schedule/activities
  • The length of the tour should be considered too – again asking members is a good idea.

Where and how: think about: 

  • Travel options for getting there and once you are there.
  • Accommodation options
  • Music options – places to perform
  • Ask members – they may have suggestions/experience
  • Do you have any members with special requirements?

More on this in part two: Going on tour: making plans;

The Money

Funding is obviously vital. Self funding is most common but grant funding may be available. Affordability for members is important here, there’s no point organising a 5 star tour to Sydney Australia only to find that no one can afford to come.  More on this in part two: Going on tour: making plans.

The Music

It’s all about the music. It’s best if your MD is involved from the start and that the group has clear expectations of what to expect musically – how much time will be needed to focus on the music and how many performances you will do.  More on this in part three: Going on tour: whilst you’re away.

Part 2: making plans

Part 3: whilst you're away

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.