Group Travel: Service Clubs

Group Travel: Service Clubs

Service clubs are an excellent way for individuals from all walks of life to contribute meaningfully to the community at large. Most such clubs have a largely professional cadre of members, but membership is rarely constrained by age or occupation. Instead, the glue that binds them is a shared vision of a better world. Service groups offer a great opportunity for members to interact, associate and discover the world around them through travel. There are two general categories of service club group travel.

Firstly, there are the ‘rewards’ holidays. These are trips planned as giveaways to recognize the contributions of members. This group travel option can be to any destination and will not necessarily include a targeted itinerary aside from the regular tourist and visitor sites. The prime focus is on enjoyment and perhaps a bit of education.

The other type of service group travel is the ‘aligned interests’ getaway. This is planned around a specific goal – or a number of specific goals – that align with the mission statement of the service club. Such travel usually incorporates a meeting with similar service clubs (including regional and international chapters of the same club) and/or one or more activities that allow the members to combine their holiday with their generous spirit of contributing to the betterment of society.

In both cases, the central idea is that of members of the service club spending time together to improve cohesion and to strengthen relationships. In the case of rewards-type group travel, any tourist destination is acceptable, so long as the trip is not too extravagant.

With the aligned interest travel, ideal destinations would be those where visiting members can intervene in their respective capacities, for example as a vet or a doctor, or at least get a better sense of the challenges faced by those that they want to help. Often, local chapters of service organization host each other’s members when they travel for this purpose.

The obvious advantage is that there is no substitute for hands-on experience. The anecdotal tales of members can be a very effective tool to inspire the contributions of other members, and also to engage newer participants.

The challenge sometimes may lie in the decision to commit finances to the travel. This is especially the case for rewards. Criticism may originate both from within and outside of the organization that the money could be better spent on activities that contribute to the group’s goals rather than on a pleasure trip for a small number of members.