Smart Student Travel took immediate action in the face of this unprecedented global disaster to protect our student travelers and teachers with whom we have worked so diligently to plan their trips.
- Our priority was and is to ensure the safe travel of student and youth travelers across the country and around the globe.
- We ask for your patience and understanding as we do everything possible to best serve your interests and needs.
- We are tireless advocates on behalf of teachers, parents, schools and the students who travel, negotiating resolutions with multiple vendors for each trip, including travel insurance providers, airlines, hotels, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, security, and more. Today the situation is changing as many have closed and have limited staff resources.
- The situation is unprecedented and remains fluid. Conflicting and changing information has created confusion, but we are working hard to keep you updated with the latest and most relevant information.
- A coalition of industry groups, including the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA), has been active in pushing the United States government for financial support that would help the travel industry and its customers.
- The ongoing pandemic affects all aspects of the travel and tourism industry, no matter how large or small the business.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Why can’t I get a full refund right now?
A: We have spent months working with clients and vendors to develop a customized itinerary that met the needs of the teachers and their students. Trips can include 20 or more vendors who received payments in advance to reserve their services. These payments were made with deposits and payments from schools and students and are no longer in theoperators’ possession.
Q: What about the travel insurance included with our package?
A: We purchased a trip protection plan on behalf of all students which includes a Cancel For Any Reason benefit. We have emailed all participants the necessary paperwork and steps to submit a claim. If you did not see this email, please check your spam folder or reach out to us as soon as possible.
Q: Why is the travel insurance claim taking so long?
A: Under normal circumstances, we have known most travel insurance providers to process claims in 4-6 weeks. The rate at which they are processing claims now is out of our control.
Q: Why isn’t the refund process easier?
A: Under normal circumstances, cancellations and refunds would have been easier. Now with shutdowns, furloughs, and layoffs by vendors, we are working with changing cancellation and refund policies that are out of our control.
In some cases, there is no one working at the vendor to process the refunds. We paid these vendors with the deposits and payments from our clients and we do not actually hold the funds. Regardless, we will continue to work as an advocate for our clients and simply ask for your patience.
Q: Now that the government has passed the CARES Act, how does this affect our ability get a refund for my trip?
A: The United States Congress recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) for small and mid-size businesses. Loans secured through this act are primarily operational for small businesses and are not allowed to be used for the purpose of refunding money to customers for things like student trips. Some loans are restricted to items such as payroll, salaries, rent, insurance, etc. While it would seem that these new financial aids would speed the process of determining possible refunds to our customers, the application and receipt of loans and bailout benefits is extremely long and complicated. We ask our customers to continue to be patient while we continue to do our best to find satisfactory solutions for trip cancellations as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
DECISION TO DESTINATION
DECISION TO DESTINATION:
THE STUDENT TRAVEL PROCESS
Planning a student group trip can be complex, which is why tour operators are your partners-streamlining the planning and contracting process, collaborating with teachers and administrators to achieve trip educational goals, and ultimately providing students with life-changing opportunities and experiences. Student tour operators work behind the scene to ensure your trip isa success.*