COVID-19 has obviously been highly disruptive to you, our clients, as well as our business. Our team of experts is here for you as we all navigate this challenge together.
In the short term we're focused on achieving the very best possible outcomes for clients who have postponed or cancelled tours. We know that times are tough for many families so we're committed to using our partnerships and supplier relationships to do our very best for them.
In the medium term we're ensuring our risk assessment criteria remains up-to-date to account for the changes required when travel recommences. We're staying well informed of official updates, travel advisories and supplier situations across all our destinations.
Finally, as we look to the long term across our industry, we're committed to redoubling our efforts towards more sustainable travel. This will involve efforts to reduce our impact on the planet and to offer more opportunities for groups to give back to the people and places they visit on tour.
If you have any queries or concerns specific to your group travel plans, contact us in the first instance.
Ngā mihi nui
The Haka Educational Tours team
Absolutely! We are available to assist booked clients and to take new inquiries. Staff are working reduced hours so may take a little longer than usual to respond to communications but, between us, we are available throughout usual business hours.
New Zealand is now out of lockdown so our Auckland staff are working safely from the office while our UK staff member is working from home. Being fully cloud-based, we have seamless access to all our files and communications, including all phone lines, wherever we're working.
Yes, we are working on itineraries for existing and new clients right now. These include:
- Domestic educational and sports tours for New Zealand schools, universities and sports teams.
- Australia-New Zealand travel opportunities within a potential Australasia bubble from late 2020 onwards.
- Long term preliminary planning for international trips anticipated post COVID-19.
Yes! As the official travel partner for Global Games we're proud to say that the NZ Junior Rugby Festivals in Taupō and Queenstown are going ahead.
The festivals will be open to NZ teams only for 2020 and there are still some spots available. Get in touch to secure a space for your team.
Within New Zealand it is safe now. We are taking bookings for 2020 snow, sports and educational tours.
When New Zealand and Australia open their borders to a wider Australasian bubble we will be able to offer tours between those two countries.
Wider international tours will recommence on a country by country basis when borders reopen and on the safety advice of international government travel advisory bodies such as Safetravel.
Because each of our tours is fully bespoke, our account managers are working closely with clients on a case by case basis. We are doing all we can to achieve the best possible outcomes for them.
We are not taking further non-refundable deposits on international tours at this stage. As we approach any scheduled payment dates we are negotiating with suppliers and offering a range of options to our clients.
Postponements allow us to offer the most cost effective results as we've been able to shift most tours to future dates at little additional cost by working closely with destination partners and suppliers.
Cancellations are achieving less favourable results but we understand that some groups can't postpone for a variety of reasons. While our terms and conditions state that all deposits paid are non-refundable we are working hard with our suppliers to offer clients some level of refund.
Wherever you are in the world, we can't emphasise enough the importance of adhering to local guidelines around social distancing and isolation right now.
We all want to again safely enjoy the gift of travel and all the developmental experiences it brings. Let's do our bit and stop the spread of COVID-19.
All Haka Tourism Group staff have strictly adhered to local social distancing directives and, within NZ, we're proud that this has been shown to be effective.
With local tours now resuming, our staff and guides will be taking increased measures to ensure the safety and appropriate risk management of all clients:
- Guests have regular access to hand-washing facilities and hand sanitiser on tour
- Handshaking and hongi greetings are avoided
- Registers of close contacts on tour are kept for the purpose of contact tracing
- Accommodation, transport and activity providers have appropriate COVID-19 protocols in place
- All guests and contacts are monitored for symptoms
- Any localised outbreaks relevant to the itinerary are avoided altogether with safer alternatives offered
- Our local guides are able to access quality health services quickly for our clients.
Our standard terms and conditions cover such eventualities as both forced and unforced cancellations or adjustments prior to, and during, your tour.
The non-refundable deposits paid on your tour fees cover payments made to suppliers to secure your group’s transport, accommodation, activities and guide as well as our time in planning and booking your tour.
Our terms and conditions state that all deposits are non-refundable. However, we are very aware of the hard work that every student puts into fundraising and saving for each tour, and we are doing our best to deliver some level of refund. The amount refunded will take time to calculate after a cancellation is made and will depend on what we're able to recoup from suppliers.
We are able to achieve far more favourable results from postponement in the current environment than with cancellations.
Because each tour is fully bespoke, we are unable to provide a set time frame for obtaining refund-related information. Our operations team is carrying out negotiations with individual suppliers and our account managers are liaising with clients on an individual basis with anticipated timelines and progress reports.
We are doing all we can to achieve best possible outcomes for impacted groups as promptly as we can. However, many of our suppliers are currently in hibernation or operating at limited capacity, therefore wait times vary and delays unfortunately cannot be avoided.
Non-refundable deposits are collected in installments and used to secure quality group tour arrangements, including optimal flights, accommodation, ground transportation, activities, and tour guides.
Securing a group booking requires a greater commitment and a different process to that of an individual traveller. This ensures that availability and best possible rates are secured for all group members.
Group flight bookings are handled differently to individual bookings in order to cater to specific group needs.
Typically, when an individual flight is booked, a form of payment is required along with full name and passport information. Group bookings only require an initial deposit and group name to confirm. This allows for some flexibility within the group, such as passenger replacements prior to departure. The deposit is usually paid after the first deposit is received by Haka Educational Tours in order to secure the flights.
Additionally, there are key differences in the booking process, fare generation and terms and conditions due to the wide range of components involved in a group flight booking, such as seat availability and the impact of passenger numbers on flight price etc.
We are working closely with airlines and our ticketing specialists to obtain deposit refunds or credits wherever possible for our clients on a case by case basis. This is a different process to that of a direct booking.
The US Department of Transportation has issued a notice that airlines have an obligation to provide a refund to a ticketing passenger when the carrier cancels or significantly changes the passenger's flights. If any passengers who purchase a non-refundable ticket that is still being operated would like to change or cancel their reservation, they are generally not entitled to a refund or travel voucher to use on that airline. We have provided a link to the statements below with further detail.
Please note that the above has been provided for your information, however, many of our group flights are booked through group ticketing partners so this may delay or complicated the refund process. You account manager will liaise with you on any progress.
You must refer to your specific insurance provider and policy for information on what is covered even if your travel insurance was included in your tour package.
It is unusual for any insurer to provide cover for COVID-19 now that it is a pandemic, particularly if you took out your policy after it was declared a public health emergency.
Again, you must consult your specific policy.
As a well established business within Haka Tourism Group, we have numerous confidential supplier contracts and partnerships in place for every tour to enable the best possible value to our clients. We cannot share those agreements, including our agent pricing and booking terms, outside of our business.
While we are making great efforts to go well above and beyond our booking terms and conditions to obtain partial deposit refunds for clients through our suppliers, we are unable to provide detailed costing breakdowns for each tour.
Most quality educational tour companies are in a similar position to Haka Educational Tours - seeking refunds in excess of their booking terms to deliver the best possible result to clients.
It is a challenging environment for all but our strong partnerships and industry relationships, along with our total commitment to our clients, place us in a good position.
The Student and Youth Travel Association has put together a useful set of FAQs and an infographic that explains the current industry norms.