A panel of travel professionals and experienced group leaders led a discussion as part of the Faith Travel Association meeting in New Orleans. Here’s a sampling of their ideas, aimed mostly at group travel.

Malia Asfour, director of the Jordan Tourism Board North America

Travel “can help change perceptions, fuel economies around the world, alleviate poverty, which if we don’t alleviate poverty, we are going to fuel fundamentalism.”

JP Cox, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

To find a tour operator: “Ask the tough questions: How long have you been in the business? Who do you cater to? Where do you go? Then I ask for résumés, references, contact info, and I call them. Also, response times are a big deal for me.”

Edita Krunic, president of Select International Tours

“My company specializes in pilgrimages. (The travel) is 60 percent to 75 percent faith-centered, but we still have fun. We have wine tastings, and we do shopping experiences and we do cultural experiences.”

“The second time around (to a destination), people really get the experience. The first time is just the tasting. The second time, you get to really start experiencing, really learning and enjoying. … The emphasis becomes spending the quality time rather than a lot of destinations or sites.”

Nathan Claycomb, Sight and Sound Theatres

“Communication is so essential and goes both ways. Excellent tour operators ask great detailed questions and get to the heart of it, ‘What do you want to accomplish?’ ”

“Tour operators offer behind-the-scenes tours or enhancements you just won’t necessarily get on your own.”

For a church wanting to plan a trip: “Find a cheerleader in the church and start (planning) early.”

“Someone referred to (the trip) as a feast earlier. Leave room for digestion. After every course, leave room to really take it in.”

Christian Utpatel, Terra Lu Travel, Germany

“Try to stay two to three nights in the same place to give people rest, and give people options.”

Let people have choices, “so everybody has a fun time. They can measure the amount of time they want to spend on something according to what they want.” They can go to different exhibitions or “just go to the market and have an ice cream.”

Stephan Tchividjian

Temper your expectations: “You think you are going to the Sea of Galilee and think you are going to see Jesus walking on the water, and you are going to see a JetSki instead. It’s 2015. You’ll see JetSkis.”

To get a church group interested, have someone do a short workshop on the potential destination. Churches “can invest in a two- or three-hour Saturday afternoon or evening. Have some fun, have some foods of the country or whatever. … It gives a taste, it’s like an appetizer, you begin to create an appetite that says. ‘Man now you’ve got me really excited. I can’t wait to go.’ ”