These are typical procedures, policies & advice for group leaders. Exceptions by prior arrangement.
Your role as a Group Leader or Coordinator: The leader/coordinator recruits group members, shepherds the group during your tour and usually serves as the groups spiritual leader. The leader/coordinator also serves as liaison between members and the Catholic Pilgrim Office wherever possible and appropriate. Leaders sometime act as tour guide, although all tours operated by the Catholic Pilgrim Office include professional guide(s).
The leader/coordinator is responsible for communicating with members throughout the process and maintaining an accurate passenger roster and rooming list.
Airport Transfers: The Catholic Pilgrim Office provides transfers to and from the airport at your foreign destination. Passengers are responsible for their transportation to and from your domestic airport (if applicable).
Group Size: The maximum number of passengers that can be accommodated is, for the most part, up to you. Some group leaders welcome all who want to go, while others prefer restricting the group to a smaller, more easily managed size. Bear in mind that your group size may impact your rates. The minimum number of passengers for your rates is quoted in your proposal/contract.
Single/Double Occupancies: The number of available single occupancy rooms are limited and are allocated on a first come-first served basis at the supplement indicated on your proposal and registration form. Passengers who wish double occupancy and do not indicate a preferred roommate will be assigned one of the same gender. However, it is possible that there will be an odd number of passengers in your group who wish double occupancy. In this event, the “odd person out” will become a single occupant and be charged the single supplement.
Final Package: Your final package containing airline tickets, tip money & schedule, passenger manifest & rooming list, air/hotel schedule, land vouchers, name tags, & luggage tags will be sent to you about 2-4 weeks prior to departure. Some group leaders hold a meeting to distribute these items to the passengers, while others do this at the airport.
Registrations, Payments, Insurance: Typically, the group leader/coordinator collects members’ registrations and deposits. This way, the leader/coordinator can keep abreast of the composition of the group. The leader/coordinator then forwards the registrations & deposits to the Catholic Pilgrim Office for processing. Subsequent member payments are sent directly to the Catholic Pilgrim Office. Passenger payment status is always available upon request. *Deposits and registrations can be sent directly to The Catholic Pilgrim Office. The registration form will indicate “Make All Checks And Payments to” along with the corresponding address.
When the Catholic Pilgrim Office receives registrations, each member is sent a documentation kit containing their invoice, payment vouchers and travel-related publications including:
Country information for your destination(s) General travel information & tips
Customs information Travel insurance booklet
Passenger payments are normally made in 3 installments: 1 - Deposit, 2 - 50% balance, 3 - remaining balance. The 50% and full balance due dates are based on your departure date and can be found on the Terms & Conditions of the registration form and at the bottom of each invoice.
For travel insurance, passengers enroll with and send premiums to the insurance company directly.
TSA Form: Under Secure Flight, the TSA prescreens passenger passport names, date of birth and gender against government watch lists on domestic and international flights. A form will be sent to you to fill out 90 Days prior to departure.
Cancellations, Registrations, Deadlines: Passenger cancellation penalties vary, depending on the timing of the cancellation—the closer to your departure date, the higher the penalty. The specifics are found on the Terms & Conditions of your registration form. The goal is to have the group finalized 60 days prior to departure. New registrations (if possible) within 70 days of your departure require full payment with certified funds via overnight shipment.
Passports, Visas, Immunizations: Passengers are solely responsible for their passports. Passports must be valid up to 6 months AFTER your scheduled return or the passenger will not be cleared through security. The Catholic Pilgrim Office will process any necessary visas for your US citizens only. Visa requirements vary by country. Non-US citizens are responsible for obtaining any necessary visa(s) for the country(s) you will be entering. The Catholic Pilgrim Office is not responsible for the consequences of improper passenger documentation.
Most destinations have no special immunization requirements. You will be notified if any are required for your tour.
Fuel Surcharges, Exchange Rates: Your rates are based on the fuel surcharges and applicable currency exchange rate(s) at the date of quotation, which may change up to 30 days prior to departure. Please note that this disclaimer is indicated on your quotation, brochure and registration form. Significant changes (up or down) must be passed on to the group members.
Countdown to Your Journey of a Lifetime!
Prior to departure:
Proposal / contract is negotiated and agreed upon
Brochure & registration form are created and printed after proofs are approved by the group leader / coordinator
Receive brochures & registration forms. Promote your tour, sign up members, forward registrations & deposits to The Catholic Pilgrim Office.
6 Months Passengers 50% balance due*
70 Days Passengers full balance due*
60 Days Final passenger roster, rooming list and TSA form due from the group leader*
2-4 weeks Receive your final package containing airline tickets, tip money & schedule, air/hotel schedule, passenger manifest & rooming list, hotel vouchers, name tags, luggage tags
* Can be sent earlier
Suggestions on Promoting Your Pilgrimage
- Present your tour as an important aspect of your ministry and the members spiritual life. This trip is an extension of your ministry - a spiritual highlight that will benefit you and those you serve for years to come. Present the tour as enthusiastically as you would any other part of your ministry.
- Make frequent announcements. Begin announcing your departure date as soon as possible. Tell people when, where, how long, how much, and how to register.
- Make repeated announcements during service, over the air, on the bulletin board, or in your church newsletter or worship program bulletin.
- Invite everyone. Do not try to guess or hand pick people you think will go. You will probably be surprised at who joins you.
- Distribute brochures. The Catholic Pilgrim Office will provide brochures with your photo (if desired), invitation to the tour and itinerary. However, do not rely on brochures alone to sell your journey. They are merely aids and should not be counted on to do the entire job.
- Seek local media coverage. Offer local newspapers, radio stations, and television stations details about your tour, and make yourself available for interviews. Ask how we can help!
- Do not forget the individual approach. The most effective tour hosts fill their groups by person-to-person contact. Many of those who go with you will be friends and ministry partners you have invited personally.
- Ask for a commitment to go. This commitment is the members deposit. Deposits are normally partly refundable up to 70 days prior departure. Make sure that all have read the Terms and Conditions on your registration form.
- Hold group meetings. These will help create excitement about the tour in your congregation.
- Where appropriate, announce people who have just joined. Be enthusiastic about each person who joins your group. Announce their names informally during service, and perhaps a note in your bulletin. Again, emphasize the wonderful ministry value of the trip.
- Contact a wider circle of prospects. Consider inviting friends in places where you have ministered or served before. They may welcome the opportunity for fellowship and ministry with you once again. You may even want to invite local community leaders with whom you are closely associated. Your journey is a great opportunity to minister to people outside your church or normal circle of influence.