Recently, I had a conversation with a long-standing member of SAH about the study tour program. We specifically discussed the price of the study tours. This topic is not new and after the conversation I felt it may be important to share this information with the larger membership to dispel any misconceptions that may be out there.
The SAH Study Tour program is self-supporting within the organization. This means that those who participate in an SAH tour pay for any and all costs associated with the planning and execution of the tour. SAH does not underwrite tour costs with revenue from membership dues or the fees from the annual conference.
The study tour program provides interested members with high-quality programs that are not offered by other organizations, including VIP Alumni groups. An SAH tour affords those who are fortunate enough to reserve a space with a tour leader who is an expert on the topic presented and who is able to arrange special interior visits, and access to private archives. In addition each tour is enriched by the participation of the architects, designers and preservationists who are instrumental in securing access to the significant buildings featured on our tours.
To ensure that our members get the greatest benefit from a tour, each day’s itinerary is packed with as many sites as possible. SAH does not offer extended coffee breaks, leisurely lunches or time for shopping. We want to make sure you get your money’s worth. Those of you who have been on an SAH tour know this to be true.
All costs are included in the total cost of the tour and are passed on to the participants on a per person basis. The tour costs include more than just the hotel, transportation, meals, admission fees and donation. SAH includes as part of the tour package price AIA/CES fees, credit card charges, tour leader airfare (if applicable), tour leader honorarium, postage, SAH representative tour package, SAH representative airfare (if applicable), printing/photocopying of tour notes, supplies, telephone calls, applicable taxes, service fees and gratuities. SAH does not collect additional fees once your final payment has been made. So the price you pay for the tour is final.
Since the economic downturn of 2008, SAH decided to cut tour costs by no longer sending an SAH staff member to accompany domestic tours. Also, we no longer do a dry-run for domestic tours. In addition, after 2008 SAH no longer added overhead expenses (staff salaries to manage tours or office costs) in order to further reduce the cost of the tours. This is why I have not accompanied you on a tour for the last three years and why we have been able to keep the cost of the tours at the lowest levels possible. In addition, because the Society’s Endowment has grown in recent years through bequests and gifts, we are able to offer at least one fellowship to enable a graduate student or emerging professional to participate on every SAH tour. The Study Tour Fellowships are now funded 100% by the SAH endowment, not study tour participants, as they were in the past.
SAH’s international study tours are a joint effort with a destination management company that is our partner in negotiations and on-the-ground management of the program. This is not a travel agency, but an experienced destination group that specializes in educational travel and is very knowledgeable about the cities and countries we visit. Because they frequently take groups to the places we visit, they have strong connections and negotiating power that afford SAH the best deals possible. Once tour prices have been negotiated with the destination management company, SAH then adds our expenses, such as tour leader travel and honorarium, to the tour price. Without the cost recovery of these expenses, SAH would not be able to present tours to our members.
Keeping the tour program fully self-supporting allows SAH to keep the SAH membership and annual conference rates as low as possible. SAH’s conference registration and membership fees are comparable or lower than those of most of our sister learned societies.
I hope that this information sheds light on the subject of SAH tour costs and assures everyone that, while we are not tour operators that can repeat a tour several times each year, the Society provides high-quality programs that are not available anywhere else. We look forward to your support of the SAH study tour program as we both respond to economic realities and fulfill the Society’s educational mission.
SAH Director of Programs