As we make our way into the final quarter to 2020 and continue to work to flatten the global-COVID curve, we’d like to thank all those who did their part (in particular, the incredible healthcare workers, worldwide!), and to express sincerest condolences to all who lost loved ones. Hopefully the world will heal, and a vaccine to permanently combat this dreadful disease will arrive.
At Outpost, we believe good travel is essential to human inter-connectedness and to a more peaceful world. As travel restrictions evolve or lessen and we reconsider how to travel, we asked a few top travel companies how the COVID pandemic has reshaped their operations, and where they stand now. Here’s what New Zealand-based Active Adventures had to say:
Question #1 | Are you (re)focussing or redirecting tours to specific destinations, geographic regions, or types of experience/travel, due to COVID-19?
Active Adventures | Yes. We are now focusing on selling shorter, cheaper trips to the New Zealand domestic market. We are also launching Tasmania for the Australian market, and US for the US market. We’re expecting borders to be closed for quite a long time, especially here in New Zealand. So domestic is our new focus, because even if we have a lot of bookings for 2021/2022, we still need to find a way to generate revenue for this financial year.
#2 | What, if any, new health and safety protocols have you implemented for tours, in light of COVID?
Active Adventures | We have a page with all the details here: https://activeadventures.com/covid-19-coronavirus-travel-advisory. But the specifics change by country. For example, in NZ we’re covid-free, so after the quarantine period [all in-coming travellers must self-isolate for 14 days] , you would be free to go normally, with good hygiene practices in place. For other countries, it would be way more strict. Please have a read to the page for specifics.
#3 | Does your protocol include a new plan for consumers who get sick when travelling with you? What aid can consumers expect if they become ill?
Active Adventures | Yes, we have a response plan, consisting of isolating the person, contacting the medical authorities and follow their advice, in addition to our own response plan.
#4 | Are you offering any (great) travel deals (discounts, special offers, deals to iconic destinations) to consumers at present, or in the future?
Active Adventures | We’re offering early-bird payment to selected customers in exchange of a discount, and sold vouchers for a while. Domestically, we’re trying various promotions. But we’re aware that we are in a precarious situation, so no we are not running any mass travel deals; right now for us, it’s more about proving we’ll be able to keep [travellers] safe, and we have everything planned and covered.
#5 | As the COVID situation is still (somewhat) unpredictable, what do you say to consumers who are “doing their research now” for future travel, but unsure if it’s smart to buy at the present time?
Active Adventures | We just tell them that they can book now and transfer as many times as they need. We move all trips 3 months ahead, so they don’t have to pay anything but the deposit. It allows them to save their spot for when borders reopen (New Zealand will be quite popular, we’re expecting).
#6 | Given the recent COVID-driven complications surrounding return, credit and cancellation policies, how are you addressing concerns around presale deposits for 2021/2022, in the event of a pandemic resurgence?
Active Adventures | We can move the deposit as many times as we want, so it’s not really an issue. On all [our] pre-COVID bookings, less than 5 percent asked for a refund.
#7 | What would be, if any, the advantage a consumer would have to book a trip now with you?
Active Adventures | Lifetime transferable deposit, possibility to change trip outside of 30 days, get a refund outside of 30 days (minus deposit), free trip if not satisfied; our trips are in small groups in quite remote areas as well, so pretty safe, as we tend to avoid big cities. Our guides have years of experience as well, and NZ safety protocols are some of the strictest in the world, and we apply them worldwide even if we don’t have to.
#8 | If you have additional comments regarding domestic or international travel, or your company’s planned approach, feel free to add.
Active Adventures | Each market is different, especially regarding fears and opinion of group travel domestically. It’s important before opening to a new market to make your research, and tailor the products to their needs. **