Anyone who reads my blogs regularly knows that I really prefer to write or repost information that is positive, educational, funny, or helpful. However, I feel that I need to share my recent experience with Voyageurs International, LTD. (VIL)
My youngest Polliwog was signed up for a European tour to perform in a number of countries. VIL is the company which our local school board has partnered with to lead the tour and make arrangements. The cost of this trip is between 7-10k. This does not include his discretionary money and so on. The fees are set up in payment schedules and based upon how close we are to the trip; the cancellation fee increases.
I feel that it is important to note that as a serial entrepreneur, I understand the cost of doing business and am supportive of REASONABLE cancellation fees. I also am a human and understand that human circumstances happen, thus it is important to consider all parts of the system and have contingency plans for special situations. Personally, the human factor is a much larger factor in my business practices.
We also know that we are currently facing a pandemic which has already lead to a significant shift in the travel paradigm. Additionally, there are economic and social consequences that may create a level of malcontent that could make international travel a dangerous situation for our children. Thus, I contacted the company this morning and asked about their contingency plan in the event that they need to cancel the trip or that we as parents no longer feel the event is safe for our children. I was informed that they will not cancel a trip until 10 days before the event and they have collected all of the money.
I was informed that their contract is very clear and that if they canceled, no matter the reason, there would be ZERO refund and ZERO credit towards further travel.
Help me understand how your “mom and pop company owners” can sleep at night knowing that you are creating a situation that will be hurtful for many families. Many of these parents are people who are sacrificing and saving the thousands of dollars for to send their child on this once in a lifetime trip. You KNOW, there is a large possibility that this trip will not work out as presented, yet you are waiting until the last minute to establish a plan or cancel while collecting the full fee and offering no accommodation for these families. Additionally, you are putting parents in a position to either choose the safety and wellbeing of their child or loose thousands of dollars should you choose to take the risk of touring a group of children through a series of pandemic affected areas.
I find this practice egregious and I immediately cancelled my son’s trip based upon this alone. I find that someone who has so little consideration for people simply gross. This is predatory behavior taking advantage of a parent’s love.
I specifically inquired because several spots on the itinerary will probably have to be cancelled. I had already researched and found out that they are under quarantine and have closed borders (the trip is less than 3 months away and there is significant chance that they will continue to be closed as the current information says that the reopening is TBA). They denied having knowledge of this.
If you are running an international tour for children, help me understand why you are not keeping a tight eye on the situation in the countries and considering the wellbeing of our children and arranging some sort of contingency plan?
I find that the lack of proactive research and contingency planning negligent and I will never allow any of my children under your care as it is clear you do not have their best interest at heart.
I will be emailing copies of this blog to the press and the school board. I hope that Plant High School and the Hillsborough County School System and any other schools that work with this company read this and reconsider who does their group travels.
Today I cancelled and it cost me $1600. My child will always be more important than money. However, I urge parents to head this warning. If you do not cancel before tomorrow, you will lose another $600 for the cancellation fee and after May 1, you lose everything.