Our refund policies are stated on every flyer and tour agreement per school; however, this is an adjusted policy to better serve our clients.
Every parent signs/returns the deposit form when making the initial non-refundable deposit. That form reads:
"Student _________ has my permission to participate in this activity. I have read the flyer and understand/accept all refund policies. My signature below confirms this statement. (Parent/Guardian_____________)."
Every tour coordinator signs the trip agreement. The cancellation/reschedule wording: “Traveling Classrooms will issue tour vouchers for all participants if tour is rescheduled due to conditions beyond our control”. The tour agreement in more detail reads: “Traveling Classrooms will not be held financially liable for cancellations due to acts of war, terrorism, or other reasons beyond its control. Traveling Classrooms will reschedule tour via vouchers for all participants. No refunds will be issued for those unable to attend the rescheduled tour.
Usually, the refund policy is just used for individual students that have medical, transfer or discipline reasons for dropping out of a trip. We are very generous with the medical or transfer issues. Rarely is it used for a complete trip reschedule/cancellation, although it was used during the 9/11 tragedy, govt. shutdowns, Iraq War concerns, and weather-related issues. During those various situations, every school rescheduled their trips with no loss of funds at all.
Now comes this virus pandemic. This crisis is still unstable. Some schools have cancelled instead of rescheduling. So instead of issuing the advertised reschedule voucher, we are refunding $50 of the initial $100 non-refundable deposit to the parents. That $100 Non-Refundable deposit is divided into 5 advance payment categories Transportation, Lodging, Meals, Attractions and Traveling Classrooms.
Traveling Classrooms begins each trip's scheduling process with a tour coordinator meeting usually 12-14 months prior to departure. Dates, schedules and pricing are discussed during that meeting. We then check availability with over 12-16 separate vendors. If available, we secure those reservations and confirm the trip with the school. We begin the advertising portion of the trip usually 9 months prior to departure. We make payment collections usually 6-8 months prior, pre-pay those vendors with advance deposits 6 months prior to arrival. Many schools add a 2nd payment collection 4 months prior to departure. Final collections occur usually 2 months prior to deposit with all final payments paid to vendors 5-6 weeks prior to arrival. Costs incurred over those first 10 months prior to departure include meetings at the school, production and delivery of trip informational packets, reservation phone calls/emails, parent meetings, collection dates, advance vendor payments, site inspections, office expenses such as utilities, supplies, payroll and more.
Now, instead of collecting final payments, room lists and paying off vendor balances, we are working to recoup all advance payments from those pre-paid vendors. Once we recover those funds, we mail them back to the parents. * Please remember if the trip was paid in full or more paid than the original $100, you will receive all those extra funds back. IE: If your trip was $435, you will receive a $385 refund. We are retaining only $50 of the original $100 for the work, costs incurred over the previous 12-14 months of working each school trip.
FYI: Another Cleveland area student tour operator offered trip insurance through a 2nd party insurance company. The only refunds would be through that insurance company. After paying for the trip insurance, the parents are only receiving 75% of the total trip. Example: Trip cost $540, + insurance $42. Total cost $582 per student. Now take 75% of the $540 total= $405 refunded. We would have refunded $490 per student of that trip without the trip insurance
I hope this explains a little more in detail the reason Traveling Classrooms is retaining $50 of the initial $100 non-refundable deposit. We feel, as many other school systems understand the $50 retainer is very fair. We wish it could be more, but we must cover our expenses for the past work and the work still being done on your behalf. Sincerely, Bob Jackson, Owner Traveling Classrooms