Tours Abroad - how do you get there?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Charmed, Oct 21, 2005.

  1. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    For the past few years my band have indicated that it would be great to do a tour abroad and I was just wondering how other bands manage to pull this off. I often get leaflets through the door offering banding tours to different parts of the world, however, the costs are quite high. For a band with no money, and I am sure there are lots of bands out there in the same position, how do we make this dream a reality?

    My questions are as follows:

    1. How do bands with no money tour abroad. Do the players pay for themselves? Does the band go on a fundraising marathon? (We have to fundraise all the time just to help with our usual expenditure).

    2. How do you get a band together? I presume that most players are in some form of work, go to school/college or have families other commitments.

    3. The players that inevitably you need to borrow, do they go free? Does the band have to pay for all their expenses including a fee?

    I would appreciate it if any of you have managed to pull off a successful tour without bankrupting the band and with most of your own band members going, would pass on your tips and advice.

  2. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Hi There!

    Cawston this year completed their first ever overseas tour. We worked with Rayburn tours and their help and expertise was invaluable.

    From the outset we asked the band who was prepared to go, and gave them the budget figure we were given per person from Rayburn.

    We then set about raising the funds. We knew we would not be able to raise the whole sum but instead of paying £ 335 per person the contributiuon from each member was only £ 160.00

    The fund raising commenced a year before we were due to leave. What we also did was to set up a Fund Raising committee to oversee the events so it did not create an extra burden for the committee.

    We only took 3 guests and they agreed to come along and pay the going rate.

    This is only a brief summary but if you want any further information please feel free to PM me!
  3. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    1. How do bands with no money tour abroad? - We organise the whole thing ourselves, typical costs have been Belgium 2003 -£275 (8 days), Holland 2004- £290 (8 days) and this year Czech Republic - £280 (7 days).

    2. How do you get a band together? - give the band plenty of notice, lots of people have to book holidays by end of January to get the time off work - and we usually go in the summer holidays for the teachers/students etc

    3. The players that inevitably you need to borrow, do they go free? - No, any player going has to pay the full amount whether member or not. It should be remembered that the people who take on the organisation of these tours put in significant amounts of time and effort to get this off the ground.

    If you have any thoughts on where you want to go I can send you contacts etc for Belgium, Germany, Holland and the Czech Republic.

    Travelling is always the biggest source of complaints on tours so don't plan 18 hour days on a coach - try to keep travel times to venues down to less than 2 hours. If you use a coach then you need to fill the seats to get the best value so invite plenty of Klingons (non players) however a full bus means limited loading space so it's best to get a coach with a trailer - put all your luggage in the trailer and band gear on the coach - when you get to your hotel leave the trailer for the trip home and it's also useful for filling up with duty frees. Don't skimp on the coach - get good standard with air-con. The coach driver can make or break your tour find a driver that has been with bands before and understands how you behave. A "jobs worth" telling you what you can and can't do can prove to be a nightmare.

    Plan venues to suit all members of your band - we have been to theme parks, brewries and museums for our concerts - gets the band in free to somewhere they would probably want to go and after your performance stay and enjoy the venue.

    Finally get a good team together to organise it - we usually split this between venues, transport/travel and hotels. Nominate someone to take overall charge and make sure you delegate tasks. Good luck and if you need anymore information or assistance please pm me too.
  4. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member


    I've organised and been on a few tours now. The ones I have organised have been done through professional tour companies, such as Rayburn Tours. I cannot recommend these companies highly enough!! They do absolutely everything - they book the coach, the hotel, the ferry, the concerts, the excursions and anything else you want them to. It isn't the cheapest way to get abroad, but it is the least stressful! They even provide a tour manager to help make everything go smoothly when you are out there.

    We made the band members pay for it themselves. We were in Germany a few months ago and 6 days full board (two of which were travel days, admittedly) cost a tad over £300 per person.

    If you don't think you can get the band members to stump up that much cash, look into setting up an exchange with a foreign band - I was involved with a band that did that when I was a child and it was quite good. You stay with band members when out there, and they organise the concerts which could be a joint concert with the two bands. You do however have to remember that you need to put up the foreign band on their reciprocal exchange though - and some European bands have a lot of members to accomodate :biggrin:. This way you only have to pay for the coach, but involves a lot of work for somebody......

    Feel free to pm me if you want more, specific details about anything.


  5. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    I've aranged many trips over the years - all without the aid of a tour operator.

    Check out your local town twinning association for starters - Mid Sussex Brass have done 2 succesful trips now to our twin town in Germany, timed to match with the twinning society vist and local town festival.
    I can't remember the costs but do know that they were significantly cheaper than an organised tour.
  6. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Thanks to those of you who have responded so far. Just one more question I would like to ask.

    The concerts that the band perform whilst touring - are they concerts that the public pay to see and if so, who gets the money?

    Thanks again.
  7. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    The concerts we did were FOC to the public. In effect the venue costs, if any, together with the publicity were part of the fee we paid the tour company.

    We did ask for donations and sold our cd's
  8. persins

    persins Member

    SWT Woodfalls have done a couple of Tours of Switzerland in the past few years. These have generally come about through contacts with the bands over there. Generally, we have stayed with a mix of host families or in local guest houses etc.

    The concerts have generally been a bit of a mixed bag too. We have done some proper guddens, like the Premier act in a newly finished concert hall in Village Neuf which was a bit good but also some shocking ones! The majority of these were public concerts for which an entrance fee was paid. I don't know who got the money though. I know that we made quite a bit out of CD sales!!

    With regards to funding, the band members paid a contibution towards the costs but this was subsidised by the band. I believe that the inevitable guest players generally agreed to do the same as it still works out to be a cheap holiday!
  9. Cornishwomble

    Cornishwomble Active Member

    Yes but the drying out when I got home was far more painfull :frown:
  10. persins

    persins Member

    I chose to go the other way, and kept going! Can't wait to see the pictures at Pontins!
  11. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    We have done something like that several times. We are friends with a band somewhere in Germany (it's about 6 hours driving by bus). We have been there several times, and they have visited our village several times as well. Some members of the band have become very good friends.

    What Dave said about the number of band members is true of course. The average wind or fanfare band over here has more members then a typical brass band. in germany, I stayed with a guest family two times. the other times we stayed in the local school or the local sports hall (so we had to bring sleeping bags). Concerts were organised by the German band. I especially remember one concert in a local brewery :redface: :tongue:

    Of course you have to find a band that is interested first. If you're interested in coming to Belgium, I could always try to help you find a band,,, (either a brass band or a wind band).

    Next year we are taking our youth band to a youth music festival in Hungary. Festivals like that are usually also a good occasion, because the organizers can help you find cheap lodiging (every two year there is a very good yound band festival like that, very close to my hometown: see )

    And in 2007, we may take our "adult band" on a tour to Ireland, although the planing is still very premature (we got an invitation, but it's not definite yet and we also still have to figure out how we will handle the financial side). If it happens, we will a have at least a couple of fixed concerts, but maybe there will be some time for additional concerts together with local bands. Any ideas here on what the Irish brass band/wind band scene is like? Our Irish moderator maybe?
  12. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    My band have done a number of tours over the last few years - mostly fly-aways to Spain. They're a great experiance for everyone and well worth the odd bit of hassle the tour orgainiaser invevitably gets.

    Yes in our case all players payed for themselves. We ran a scheme where any money raised by players and supporter from raffles and suchlike was taken off their ticket price. So if you sold 50 raffle tickets at a quid a piece....well, you know...;)

    Also we decided that after a lower limit all the money raised from Christmas playing would be divided up. The more jobs you did the more you raised off your ticket price. Anyone who wasn't going on the tour could use the money they raised towards their subs. This scheme didn't half improve attendances at the various carolling jobs!!

    This is the tricky our experiance we had the usual problem of people saying they would go, only to drop out when they were pressed for money. Generally we ask for a small non-returnable deposit (say £50 each) which ensures some level of commitment from the player and the band. There is also the chicken and egg situation of people not committing until they know you are going and the band not being able to commit until numbers are established. There's no easy way with this I think, you just have to go through the pain of doing it and staying optimistic that it will all work out in the end! As I remember for the last tour we did, we filled the last two seats just a couple of weeks before we left.

    As for timing, again this can be a sticking point. We normally chose the Easter holidays, because we have a number of teachers and students in the band, and the non-teachers amongst us at least get 2 days off so we're not using a shed-load of holiday for the tour. An idea to tour during the summer months didn't go down too well with some of our members - they simply don't want to give up their main holiday of the year to banding. It may be different for your band though.

    No, all deps paid the full amount, and were given the opportunity to do any of the fundraising stuff as I mentioned before. In some ways they were better off in the raffles as they could then go the their own bands and sell loads of tickets!

    For the last two tours to Spain, where we had established contacts, we did some joint concerts with other groups (choirs etc). The profits were split three ways, and our share was put into the tour "slush fund" which paid for things like our coach out there etc. Any money left at the end of the concerts was put towards a "Grand Tour Last Night Blow Out, Prize Giving and Social Event" (catchy name eh?) which the whole tour party were invited out for a meal, using the tours remeaining profits to pay for it until we'd ate / drunk the slush fund dry :biggrin:
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2005
  13. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Such a great idea, thanks. You have given me quite a few ideas on how to help with the costs and take the pressure off trying to get band members more involved in fundraising!

    Thanks again!!
  14. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    Been on TubaFrans tour with Killamars to the Netherlands and I think the one thing that may have helped alot were having the non-refundable deposits along the way as a means to cover pre-costs.

    Also, the BBC came over from the States to the UK back in 2000. We fund raised over here by selling CDs and asking our supporters for money (the only time in the first 20 years of the band that they have called on supporters to help)

    Right now I am trying to work on a local band from the States going to the UK, and some of the bands I played with from the UK to come to the States and the main angle I am trying to get is some homestays to help cover housing.

    Also, going back the Killamarsh gigs we played were mostly (if not all) for donations only. The BBC gigs we did we got paid for (I believe) and were schedules ahead of time as it was part of the British Open weekend. I think the trick is to find some guarenteed money and if not and you have to collect for donations, try to make sure you are at least getting something free out of it. For instance, I am try to work on getting the UK bands that visit Ohio to have theirdonations only concerts (or poissbly even free) at Cedar Point (with free admission to the amusement park) and/or at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland (once again with free admission to the museum).

    What has seemed to be most helpful is to wither know the areas you are going real well or have connections in that area.
  15. B'aht a band

    B'aht a band Member

    As you may be aware, my old band went to NZ earlier this year, and we had to do at least 10 months of fundraising. This included quiz nights, sponsored walks, a black tie ball, plus the usual expenditure of players paying a set amount. I don't know how it worked in Singapore, but we played a couple of jobs, but I don't know if we got paid for those. When we arrived in NZ, we played a joint concert with Trusts Waitakere in Auckland town hall and also one with Titan Hutt City Brass. Both were sell-outs, but again, I am not sure as to how the income was distributed, although we did sell a heck of a lot of CD's, at both concerts and the street march (at which we didn't partake, but played at the start).

    Hope this helps in any way.

  16. nigel

    nigel New Member


    Hi i am nigel from Gillingham Band and I am involved in organizing an exchange visit with a band in germany.
    How it works is simple. We visit them every 4 years and they come to us every 4 years. so we meet every other year.
    Last year we visited them and it cost only the coach which was approx £2500 this was split by the number traveling so we had around 50 people and we charged each person £60.00 which meant we had a little bit of money spare. some of this was used to fly two players over which we needed to do a concert which we had. The accomodation was provide by the band we visited. and any places we went they paid for although the coach we went over on was used to get us about. We left on a thursday evening and returned on the tuesday morning. The two concert we did over there the germans used for all there expenses. Next year I am organizing there visit to us. we are intending to give them a very good time with partys every night and visiting a couple of places. all this will be paid for by doing 1 big concert when they are over. If it is planed carefully there visit will not cost anything. the worst job for us will be finding places for 45 to 50 people to sleep for a few nights this is a little difficult.
    This way is very enjoyable and you will get to meet a lot of people and gain freindships for life.
    I can recomend this way as gillingham band has a freindship with the Hille Band which goes back over 20 years. last weekend myself and 3 other members of our bandvisited them on our own and we had a fantastic week end due to the freinship we have built up over the years. I have been with the band 4 or 5 times and on my own 5 times and its great. all you need to do is find a band to do the same with


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