INDIANAPOLIS -- Sometimes finding success means thinking small.
This theory has been key for Music Travel Consultants, based in
Indianapolis. The firm has carved out a unique niche for themselves
within the state. "There are student travel planners out there, but
Music Travel Consultants is the only firm devoted to music groups
in Indiana and one of a handful in the Midwest," Gregory Moore, the
firm's senior account officer and vice president, said.
The operator's clients are music groups from the schools and
communities of Indiana. Its packages range from Bowl games to
European tours for music groups. Slowly expanding, Music Travel is
trying to make sure it covers the Indiana market as much as
possible before expanding too far, Moore said. Along with Indiana
clients, the company also has clients in Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin,
Kentucky and Iowa and for now, Moore said, that's plenty. "We would
like to expand, but we would like to do it at a pace that we are
comfortable with. We won't turn business away but we are not
running out to conquer new states," Moore said.
The firm, which does an annual $2 million to $3 million in
business, was opened in 1987 by John Sturm. Sturm left the music
tours division of the Great American Band Co., part of World Tours
owned by Ross & Babcock Travel of Indianapolis, to start Music
Travel, Moore said.
As a smaller firm, Music Travel can build its market with a
hands-on and personal approach. Although it publishes some local
advertising and makes cold calls, the operator does not offer a
standard brochure, preferring to create custom itineraries for each
group. "Everything is customized to the individual group, and the
trip is planned around them and their needs," Moore said. It's this
sort of attention that brings the firm 40 to 50 groups a year,
ranging from small school bands using motorcoaches to high-end
music groups, with 150 to 300 members traveling with bigger
budgets. Attracting groups and creating good trips have been the
cornerstone for the business, Moore said. "Referrals and repeat
business is a great percentage of our business. Our biggest way to
sell a group is to do one trip right, and they become repeat
Using their own experiences as musicians and musical educators,
the firm's officers plan for their clients with the unique
requirements of a music group on tour. "They have some needs that
go beyond what tours might need," Moore said, "There are a lot of
details that have to be watched." The operator makes arrangements
for instrument storage, chaperones, practice space, parking
following a performance and refreshments, especially if the clients
are marching in a parade. Travel directors personally escort each
group and handle on-site logistics, including check-ins, meal
arrangements and general questions.
In addition to going on the road with groups, Music Travel's
staff concentrates on building relationships with potential clients
and vendors. The firm is an industry member of the Indiana Music
Education Association, a member of the National Tour Association
and the exclusive charter member representing Indiana with SYTA,
the Student Youth Travel Association of North America. Also, Music
Travel teamed with large vendors to secure lower prices and
increase options for their customers. They are preferred partners
with Planet Hollywood at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., where
they send 15 to 20 groups yearly. They also offer discount package
rates at the Hard Rock Cafe and Rain Forest Cafe. "We don't have to
be a $40 or $50 million company to have close relationships with
firms like that," Moore said.
One of the major relationships for Music Travel is with Walt
Disney World, where the firm sends nearly one-third of its clients.
"Our biggest destination is probably Walt Disney World," Moore
said. The operator is the only travel company in Indiana appointed
to the Walt Disney World Student Travel Planners Advisory Council.
These memberships, Moore said, are like stamps of approval from the
industry as well as a source of potential clients.
For more information, contact Music Travel Consultants at (317)
637-0837; fax (317) 637-0821, or send e-mail to