A message to you
The last of our 2020 groups were due to depart in the upcoming September school holidays and under normal circumstances, they should have been counting down the days with excitement and anticipation. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
A lot has changed. These last eight months should have been the culmination of years of work, not only by us but also the schools, teachers, students, and families involved in the tour process – years of sacrifice, fundraising and saving - and we do not take that lightly. We also know that it is not just our team, our business, and our industry that has suffered; the lives and livelihoods of many New Zealanders and people throughout the world have been affected by Covid-19, through no fault of their own.
As our company name suggests, the foundation of our business is to provide the kind of experiences that help shape lives; to provide the kind of experiential learning that helps students learn as much about themselves as the subjects they are travelling to study. While the experiences associated with these tours will no doubt stay with us all for along time, we share the disappointment of everyone that their travel could not be completed as planned.
We also wanted to acknowledge all the thoughtful emails we have received over the past few months; we truly appreciate them and sincerely thank you for your continued support. As we now look ahead, with borders closed and remaining so for some time yet, we felt it was timely to share an update with you.
The past eight months, the impact of COVID 19 for us and our business moving forward.
The year started out great, with the team busy facilitating the final arrangements for groups due to depart in April however, it quickly became apparent that all our groups planning to travel would be affected by the pandemic. As the world changed drastically around us, so too did our plans. Our focus shifted to protecting the schools who had entrusted their travel arrangements to us.
As we mentioned in our June update, providing our schools with credits, or deferring a tour to a later date was not tenable. Combined with the uncertainty around borders and when they will re-open, year 13 students being in their final school year, change in date requirements or subject choices meant cancellation was the best option.
The process of cancellation, however, is both time consuming and difficult as the situation around the world changes day by day and agreements with suppliers changed rapidly as a result. Like us, our long-standing suppliers recognise the responsibility we have as providers of educational travel. Their understanding that in this unprecedented time we must try to step outside booking conditions to best serve our clients meant that we were able to work together negotiating and seeking where possible, refunds for our groups. We are extremely grateful and proud to have strong partnerships with them all and we look forward to when we can work together again.
Defining Moments have been able to settle significant refunds whether through supplier refund or insurance for all our schools who were due to travel in 2020 and 2021 and we are appreciative of all positive feedback from principals, teachers and parents for the work undertaken and the amount of the refund to the families. We will continue to act responsibly and with integrity on behalf of all our schools, students, and families.
Defining Moments, as part of House of Travel Whangarei, is a 100% New Zealand owned and operated company, supporting educators and school communities throughout the country. Profits remain in New Zealand and are reinvested in our local communities. As part of House of Travel, we are not a large corporate organisation, but a group of locally owned businesses connected by a consistent and common purpose: to enrich lives through travel.
We do have a plan; we are focused and determined to see that through. We have made some tough decisions that will help ensure our financial solvency so we can keep working with school groups and plan for when the world is able to travel again. We continue to adhere to the strict process laid out through bonding with the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) to protect all client’s funds and keep them separate from our operating accounts. We have never and will never, use one schools funds to pay for another’s tour. As one of only three TAANZ bonded educational travel providers in New Zealand we are well placed to continue protecting our client’s funds.
Despite the current situation, our culture remains strong. Our foundations are not brick and mortar but our people and our relationships. Our team are focused on supporting these relationships with our schools, principals, and teachers, creating unique educational experiences for students – even if they are in our own backyard for the time being.
Out of adversity comes opportunity and as a result, our team have been working with local domestic suppliers to package together two great itineraries in the North Island and South Island. Both tour options can be catered to specific curriculum requirements and offer a great insight into what New Zealand has to offer. They can be incorporated with a history, geography, tourism, environmental or cultural focus. If you would like some more information, please refer to the following link https://www.definingmoments.co.nz/school-tours/new-zealand-tours or contact our team.
As always, we appreciate all the continued support, trust and understanding many of you have provided us with over the years. For now, we look forward to working with some of you on our New Zealand tours and for others, when safe to do so, working together again to provide the kind of Defining Moments to students that we are all so proud of.
Stay safe and stay well.
The team at Defining Moments