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SEP-OCT 2016

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Page 12 of 77 11 S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 6 Islands in the Sun Cruises & Tours, Inc. 800-278-7786 9?< û09<ü -97: :963-C ASK ABOUT she found a posting for a position that seemed created just for her. "I met a lot of people who worked for universities, and they seemed to really enjoy it," said Klus. " en I got lucky. ere was a posting for an alumni travel coordinator. It seemed perfect for me. I had no idea that alumni travel was a thing before I saw the job posting online." Now Klus helps plan 40 to 45 educational and entertainment trips for about 500 to 600 travelers a year. She enjoys indulging her love of travel when it is her turn to host one of the trips. "I have hosted several trips, including ones to Istanbul, Argentina and Florence," said Klus. "It's been a great experience. I've gotten to see a lot of places in the world that I didn't even know I wanted to go to." A R O U N D T H E W O R L D A N D B A C K When deciding where Northwestern University alumni should venture next, Klus thinks globally. "We try to spread our trips across the world with a few in each continent," said Klus. "A lot of our trips are in Europe because those are the most popular." e program even ventures to Antarctica every couple of years. However, the alumni can also opt for tours closer to home. "With everything going on in the world, our domestic trips have picked up quite a bit," said Klus. "Our trips to national parks, Alaska and the Canadian Rockies have sold very well. We're seeing a lot more interest in staying in North America." e alumni program uses tour operators for all its tours except for trips to Northwestern football games and a yearly Broadway-themed trip to New York City. "Northwestern has a very big theater program, so there are a lot of alumni involved in theater," said Klus. "We plan the trip around shows that are either produced or starring North- western alumni." Connecting the trip to other alumni has be- come a focus for the travel program because of the enthusiastic response from travelers. Anytime a tour visits a city with a large alumni population, Klus invites the resident alumni and students to an event with the travelers. "When we went to South America in Febru- ary, we had a lot of alumni and actual students join us at the reception," said Klus. "People really enjoyed it. We have four to fi ve events a year to cities where we can invite the local alumni." K E E P I N G I N T O U C H Instead of referring traveler inquiries to her tour operator partners, Klus keeps the alumni travel program's phone number on all of the as- sociation's marketing materials. "We want them to call us instead of the tour operator," said Klus. " ey feel taken care of by us this way." Not long before each trip, Klus asks each trav- eler for a personal biography that she can mail out to travelers as a sort of early introduction. e program also sends out numerous souvenirs branded with the college's logo, such as stickers, luggage straps, umbrellas, posttrip photo albums and bookmarks with upcoming trips, to keep Northwestern top-of-mind for travelers. However, after all of these customer service eff orts, Klus says it's the connections made during the trip that keep the alumni engaged. "People love to travel," said Klus. "If they can travel with their uni- versity, all the better. You really bond with people when you're with them for seven to 12 days in a row. It's a great way to connect with your university. You're more likely to come to other Northwestern events if you have a great experience on one of these trips." • Establish relationships with people who do the same job at other organizations. They are great resources for asking questions and benchmarking your program. • Plan events where your travelers can meet alumni liv- ing in the international destinations they're visiting. • Send well-prepared hosts. Make sure they know their travelers, the tour itineraries and their responsi- bilities inside out. T R A V E L tips

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