In June and July we took your questions about how COVID-19 was impacting us and that means for future trips. Our owner, JT Maxwell, took the time to answer them. Check it out!
Here's a summary:
We've been around nearly 20 years and we thank and appreciate all our customers. We'd like to take the opportunity to let you know where we've been, where we are, and where we're going. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navitaged this uncertain time.
If airlines and hotels were giving back 100% refunds to travelers, why didn’t Grand Classroom give back 100%?
-We start working on trips as soon as someone registers and often before. We have lots of costs beyond just those associated with the actual trip. We had to pay our staff throughout the planning process, we had to pay our rent and ultilties, insurance, and much more. These are costs that happen regardless of whether a trip travels. Part of those costs are what's included in your trip price. We're not able to get or give some of those back even if a trip is forced to be cancelled. The good news is we are implmenting some more protections that will be available for future trips that will help ensure you can get a maximum refund. Stay tuned.
Will there be different cancellation policies in place as related to COVID-19 cancellations?
-Yes. We're offering a new level of trip cancellation protection that covers acts of God, including COVID-19 related cancellations. It's called Travel Refund Program Plus (TRP Plus). With this in place, it allows our customers to plan for travel while still being covered in case the trip is unable to happen due to COVID-19.
If the school district cancels the trip, do the parents lose money? How much?
-We encourage everyone - schools and parents - to take the new TRP Plus to make sure you're covered. It's up to the individual traveler (or in some cases schools) to make that decision on whether to take the new protection or accept the risk if the trip is cancelled.
How will the pandemic impact the students’ experiences? Will they miss out on certain activities? Will the itinerary be adjusted by the account manager or on the fly by the guide?
-Since we started, we've always allowed our guides to be flexible should they need to make changes on the fly. The account managers planning the trips and itineraries always have the flexibility to work with teachers to make adjustments as needed to ensure you get the best trip possible.
Will Grand Classroom be putting together a list of procedures that teachers can go over with the students prior to travel? Will everyone be required to wear a mask? What about hand sanitizer?
-We have a COVID Mitigation Plan your Account Manager will review with you. When we're in places where masks are appropriate we will ask everyone wear them. There will be times when we can go without when we're outside. We'll provide hand sanitizer but will also ask parents send their kids with plenty as well.
What are the vendors doing to ensure the safety of the travelers? Airlines, buses, hotels, meals, activities?
-Bus companies are deep cleaning buses before and at night after each day you're on the trip. For airlines, my wife and I just traveled and while I drove, my wife flew and she felt extremely comfortable. It's a fluid situaiton with each vendor likely updating their policies as time passes and we learn more and enter new phases of this pandemic. We'll stay abreast of what each vendor is doing to ensure safety as your trip approaches and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Social distancing? Bus? Hotel?
-If we're chosing to travel while COVID is still active we're traveling as a family. You can discuss the optoin of double occupancy for kids in hotel rooms and spacing out on the bus with your account manager. While on tour we will be practicing social distancing from the public and other groups.
How will it be handled if a state (either the one we are traveling from or to) reinstates travel restrictions and has mandatory quarantining upon arrival?
-If your state requires you to quarantine, chances are you will exercise the right to cancel the trip (hopefully with TRP Plus in place) or ask us to postopone your trip which we're happy to work with you on.
Can we move our dates? Combine two grades for one trip?
-Yes if you're comfortable with it, we're all for it. Talk to your Account Manager for details
Is it safer to travel by bus rather than by air?
-Each group/individual has to make that decision on their own as to what they're comfrotable with. You will be on a bus when you get to your destination whether you take a plane there first or now. If you'd rather eliminate the plane because it makes you uncomfortable, we're happy to help you make your trip entirely on the bus.
I want to travel, but don’t know that my school or families will be able to commit to a trip this early in the fall. Can we wait and decide later in the year? How do we plan a trip if the kids are not in school?
-We know that teachers will be teaching. If you, as a teacher, are ready to introduce the trip and give the kids something positive and to look forward to, we're ready. We're going to have some incentives to travel so ask your Account Manager. The earlier you travel the better deals we can get from our vendors making it a better trip for you.
Our district/county/administration said that we cannot travel out of state. Do you have any local options for us?
-Yes, we've been customizing trips for nearly 20 years since we started. We've got plenty of ideas and can work to create the perfect trip for you.
We're ready to help you travel. Give us a call or email and we will work with you to make it the best trip possible.