OUR TEAM IS CURRENTLY WORKING REMOTELY DUE TO THE GOVERNOR OF ILLINOIS' STAY AT HOME ORDER FOR ALL NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES. THIS IS IN EFFECT THROUGH APRIL 30TH, 2020. ANY GENERAL INQUIRIES CAN BE SENT TO INFO@HEMISPHERETRAVEL.COM OR YOU MAY EMAIL THE TEAM MEMBER DIRECTLY THAT YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH. WE APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE AND UNDERSTANDING DURING THIS DIFFICULT AND CHALLENGING TIME. PLEASE STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY.
Hemisphere Educational Travel continues to closely monitor the evolving situation with respect to COVID-19. For those traveling domestically or internationally, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the guidance of the WHO, CDC and the US State Department. We will remain in contact with our Group Leaders and communicate with them the need to change an itinerary or reschedule a tour should your tour area receive a travel advisory or ban. The safety and security of our student and adult travelers is our top priority. Below are some frequently asked questions at this time;
What happens if our tour is rescheduled or canceled?
- The entire travel industry as we know it has come to a crashing halt. As with the rest of the industry we are experiencing a high volume of phone calls and emails. Our customer service team is doing their best to manage the calls and emails under these circumstances. Much of our communication will be via email if you registered for a tour through our website. We appreciate your patience and understanding. Currently our team is on a stay at home order in Illinois through April 30th, 2020 and will respond as quickly as we can.
- For those that signed up for a tour through our website, you will receive an email that your tour has been canceled or rescheduled. The email will state that we are in process of rescheduling your tour for a later date or attempting to recover funds paid to suppliers if the tour was canceled. We ask for your patience during this process as we are experiencing long response times based on the volume of cancelations and changes throughout the industry. As of now we are anticipating up to a 10-12 week period to process any applicable refunds.
- For those that signed up and paid for a tour through your school or organization, all communication and applicable refunds will be from your school group leader. We ask for your patience during this process as we are experiencing long response times based on the volume of cancelations and changes throughout the industry. As of now we are anticipating up to a 10-12 week period to process any applicable refunds.
How we are currently handling cancelations?
- If your tour is canceled by your group leader or Hemisphere, we have amended our cancellation policy if the tour cannot be rescheduled during the same calendar year. We are aware these circumstances are unprecedented, challenging and beyond all of our control. Our team is working very hard on our group's behalf to attempt to receive refunds from our vendors and suppliers to recoup as many of the nonrefundable expenses as possible and will refund accordingly less our administrative costs. This process takes time and we will attempt to have the refund (if applicable) to you within the next 10-12 weeks. If you opted to purchase the optional travel protection plan through Travel Insured International, you may be able to partially recoup funds lost by filing a claim under the Cancel for Any Reason Benefit as long as you contact Travel Insured International more than 3 days prior to the tour departure. Please call Travel Insured International at 844-440-8113 for clarification of their policies or any additional questions you may have.
If an individual decides to cancel from the tour, our standard cancellation policy applies to cover our administrative costs. This process takes time and we will attempt to have the refund (if applicable) to you within the next 10-12 weeks. Please refer to the Tour Terms and Conditions Release Form in your online account to review our policies. If you opted to purchase the optional travel protection plan through Travel Insured International, you may be able to partially recoup funds lost by filing a claim under the Cancel for Any Reason Benefit as long as you contact Travel Insured International more than 3 days prior to the tour departure. Please call Travel Insured International at 844-440-8113 for clarification of their policies or any additional questions you may have.
Why am I not receiving a full refund?
- While we wish we could refund everyone 100%, our refund policy is designed to ensure Hemisphere recovers the cost of what we have prepaid to our suppliers (airlines, hotels, sites, bus companies, etc). We have financially secured your tour events through other parties that are bound by contracts. For the past 9-12 months (and sometimes even longer) our team has been working on hundreds of tours, serving thousands of students, that were supposed to travel this March thru June. Our cancelation fees cover our company’s cost of operations based on months of planning our tours.
If I am due a refund, how long will it take?
- We are currently estimating up to 10-12 weeks. However, this is an estimate provided that our company is working remotely due to the Illinois shut down, and many companies are currently shut down. Currently we are working expeditiously on processing thousands of cancelations and having to contact hundreds of vendors to request refunds on your behalf. We have been preparing for your tour over the past 9-12 months by securing contracts and sending payments to our suppliers to ensure a wonderful experience on tour. The airlines, bus companies, hotels and other suppliers are dealing with the same volume of customer service requests as we are and your refund is dependent on the timeliness of our refund or response from our suppliers.
What our travel partners are currently doing.
Hemisphere has been in contact with many of our vendors and suppliers. In regards to our travelers' concerns;
- Many of our motorcoach suppliers are providing a deep cleanse of each bus as it returns from a trip. In addition, many are providing hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for each tour group.
- The airlines are staying compliant with CDC guidelines by wiping down hard surfaces such as lavatories, tray tables, window shades and armrests with a high-grade disinfectant and multi-purpose cleaner.
- Many of our sites, attractions and museums are taking extra pre-caution by wiping down surfaces and exhibits that are commonly touched.
What we do in the event a participant requires any type of medical attention?
Regardless of the situation, if a tour participant requires medical attention;
- A Hemisphere team member can be reached 24/7 at 800-323-6439 during your tour should there be an emergency.
- A chaperone on tour will escort the person to a medical facility to receive treatment as soon as possible.
- Hemisphere will be in communication with the chaperone and family if necessary to inform them of the status.
- Once medical treatment is completed, Hemisphere will continue to work with the school and participant until they arrive safely back home
General health information to share with all travelers (students and adults).
The CDC has released a list of preventative measures anyone can take to avoid contracting and spreading an illness.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- In addition to the information above, Hemisphere strongly recommends that each traveler brings their own hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes so they may wipe down all common surfaces, including the motorcoach and airline armrests. If your group is flying, please note the hand sanitizer container must be in a 3-ounce container or smaller to meet the TSA security measures.
If you would like additional information, we recommend visiting the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Prevention and the World Health Organization.