The team were excited to see each other again face to face after returning to the office at Level 1, though a little less excited the office dress code doesn’t now extend to track pants after a couple of months of home comforts. Returning to our office was also a bittersweet moment as the reality of having to say goodbye to some new faces hit home. Something that has been lost as we take stock of the last few months is that 2020 was planned to continue a period of growth for Defining Moments, growing the trust and relationships we have built with schools across the country to provide unique experiences for their students. Our commitment to ethical and sustainable growth allowed us to welcome new team members to the Defining Moments family this year and we were excited about the new possibilities ahead. As the world changed drastically, so too did our plans and as our focus shifted to protecting the schools who had entrusted their travel to us, we were forced to say goodbye to some truly talented people. The entire team extend their absolute best wishes to everyone affected.
We have worked tirelessly for the groups that were due to depart this year and we are grateful for the open and honest communication we have had with schools about their tours to help inform our actions. As a 100% New Zealand owned and operated company, our director Stephen Gillingham was able to travel and visit every school we work in partnership with to discuss the situation directly with school leadership, teachers, students, and their families. Our strong instinct is to always help students travel, but the nature of school group tours is that holding credits and deferring a tour for 12 months is not always tenable. For many, cancellation proved to be the best option as year 13 students move on to the next stage of their own journeys, subject choices change, overseas events and tournaments change dates, and family commitments take students to new school communities. Our negotiations with suppliers throughout the world advocated for our schools and we have worked closely with our partners to seek every refund available. Being a fully bonded member of TAANZ – The Travel Agents Association of New Zealand – has also helped protect the funds of our clients on its journey to our suppliers and back again. Whether through insurance or supplier refund, we are proud to have helped every school we work with receive a refund of substance and certainty in their tours.
Our investment for the future is in our reputation and our relationships – both with schools and our suppliers. As we finalise cancellations and look at alternative tours closer to home in the short term, as well as keeping one eye on long haul travel again, we believe we are well placed to continue to be a leader in New Zealand educational travel for a long time to come.
The Team at Defining Moments.