Coronavirus has been tough on the economy and for all of us working in the travel industry. We thought we would do a Q&A to keep all of our customers updated with how Lupine Travel have been dealing with the effects of Coronavirus and what this means for our future.
We’re used to dealing with very challenging situations due to the nature of our business, but these last few months have been the most difficult we’ve been through in the 12 years since the company was founded. The first month was probably the most difficult as we were overwhelmed with enquiries and cancellations, as well as having to deal with taking apart all of the tours that were about to depart and trying to get as much money as possible refunded for them. We’ve had to cancel 6 months of tours so far and it’s looking like more will have to follow. We had initially planned on launching some new tours earlier this year, including a month long Pacific trip but unfortunately this has had to be postponed for the time being. We did see though that people were more inclined to start booking for further into the future, so last month we brought forward the launch of our 2022 dates.
Dylan – “It’s been very difficult! Despite having no tours to run, I’ve been busier than ever at times, dealing with concerned emails and calls, cancellations, refunds and trying to plan for the rest of the year and into the future. It comes in waves though and there’s times with less work to do which has meant I’ve been able to finally get around to doing things I’ve been putting off for years – writing a book, doing up my garden and sorting through the scores of boxes of junk in my attic that I’ve accumulated over the years!”
Ric – “The best thing about lockdown was that my 5 year old son was off school so I got to spend a lot more time with him than usual! The worst thing about lockdown was that my 5 year old son was off school and I had to spend a lot more time with him than usual!! I’m sure many working parents have been in a similar balancing act and despite the stress there have been a lot of positives. From baking to bike rides and tree-climbing to treasure hunts, there hasn’t been a dull moment for us. When all this is over I’m looking forward to getting out there and travelling again, the only difficulty is deciding which place to visit first.”
Megan – “It’s been a very lonely time during lockdown as I live on my own and have only had my dog for company. Times like these make you realise how important family and friends are and it’s the little things that really matter. On the positive side I’ve got back into zumba and yoga, made friends with a lot of my neighbours and had loads of zoom parties. Oh and my dog loves me being at home! Haha.”
This is something we get asked regularly but it is an impossible question to answer unfortunately! We were initially hoping we would be able to resume tours on a limited basis from August onward but this hasn’t proved to be the case. All we can do now is to keep tracking the situation weekly. Whatever happens in the future, there is certainly not going to be a a sudden return to normality. It will be a much more gradual process with some tours starting before others.
We currently have a new destination that we are planning to launch on 14th August. We are also planning to launch a special tour later this month along the same lines as our popular Wigan to Pyongyang trip that we set up last year. Additionally we’re also currently looking into arranging some one-off tours later this year to places on the UK’s safe corridor list. We’ll hopefully arrange things where people can jump on them at late notice, without any visa requirements.
We now have a COVID guarantee policy in place. We are offering the chance to move your deposit to another later tour at any time. Also if a tour that you are booked on goes ahead but your own country does not allow travel at this time, or they have quarantine restrictions in place for returning passengers then we will allow your cancellation and will issue you a full refund. We will also be offering full refunds for any cancelled tours and will issue them no later than 7 days after they have been requested.
Anyone travelling with us must take out their own travel insurance policy. Our partners at battleface offer full coverage for any medical issues related to Covid. Click here for more information on battleface.
Most of our September tours are now cancelled. It is looking likely some if not all of our October tours may need to be cancelled as well but we will only know this for certain by the end of August. We are currently hopeful that our tours in November and December will go ahead but it’s too early to tell at the moment.
For any tours that we run before the pandemic is over or before a vaccine is found, we will put plans in place to ensure people’s safety. Extra space on transport will be necessary to enable social distancing and there will be increased hygiene procedures.
You’ve been an amazing help so far! The vast majority of you have moved your deposits to future tours when your trips have been cancelled. This is such a huge help because not only does it help us plan for the future but it also saves us many admin fees related to cancellation, which effectively add up to around 8% of each booking; including Paypal fees, FFI and other insurance costs.
Many of you have also donated generously to various causes that we have promoted, from well building in Cameroon to helping out the families of murdered rangers in DRC. Many of our guides and partners we work with in various destinations are still suffering hard from the current crisis so we hope to come up with some other ways of helping them soon.