Coronavirus Assurances and ‘What Ifs’
In these uncertain and challenging times during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, it’s good to have something to look forward to, to keep us going.
So how about getting a road cycling break for Summer 2021 in the diary?
We have finalised our calendar of events for next summer and we already have a number of groups booked in for Custom Cycling Tours, so the most popular weekends in May and June could get booked up quickly, given cycling is very much in people’s hearts and minds right now.
With EasyJet flights for Summer 2021 being now fully available and with their own flexibility policies, it could be a really good time for you and your riding buddies to start getting your heads together, and coming up with a plan. Especially if you missed out on a cycling holiday last summer due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
HOWEVER– we understand that you may feel somewhat nervous about committing to a road cycling break now, with so much uncertainty still around with the coronavirus situation…both personally, and with regards to travel in general.
We very much appreciate your concerns and are committed to looking after you come what may, so we would like to re-assure you that we take our obligations as a quality tour-operator very seriously, and value your trust in us.
As such, we would like to provide you with some assurances, so that you can feel confident in booking with Bike Weekender…
Coronavirus ‘What Ifs…’
We totally get that people may have a number of concerns about booking a holiday at this point in time, given the current travel restrictions in place around the world due to COVID-19 – it’s so tricky to know how travel restrictions and lockdowns will progress and on what timescales, as well as what may happen in the travel industry as a whole.
As a result, we have given a lot of thought as to how we would respond to any potential future challenges, and would therefore like to address the key ‘What if…’ questions as best and as transparently as we can.
What financial confidence can we have with regards to Bike Weekender for the future?
We have always operated responsibly, and with a steady long-term (some may say cautious!) strategy.
We do not carry any debt, nor have commitments to large projects, and just steady financial discipline means our future is safe and secure. We have financial reserves to ensure we will be there, no matter what!
In line with the Package Travel Regulations – all customer monies are paid into an independent Trust Account which means that they are held separately to the business. These funds are only released across to the business on the successful completion of your holiday.
Hence, in the unlikely event of insolvency of the business, your monies are available to be paid back directly to you, and business creditors have no access to them.
As having a trust account means that we only have access to your money after the holiday has happened, we choose not to spend money we don’t have. This means we are not at risk of running out of money (unlike some other tour operators who have different business models).
This also means that if a situation arises where we are required to issue refunds (such as happened this past winter ski season), we have the money readily available with which to process the refund and you are not kept waiting (also unlike some other tour operators who have different business models). All recent refunds as a result of coronavirus cancellations were issued within 14 days of being requested, many much sooner.
You can find further details about our financial protection here >>>
What confidence can we have in next season operating as normal for Bike Weekender?
This is definitely a tough question to answer, as there is so much uncertainty going forward about how life, travel and leisure will be in the new “post-coronavirus world”.
It’s likely that there will be some changes to the “normal” operations of many things in our life, as we seek to maintain an element of social distancing or control measures.
We currently remain optimistic and hopeful that these restrictions will be eased over the coming months, allowing us to operate our road cycling season – at least in a “new normal” kind of way!
We believe that we are in a strong position to be able to react to any safety measures which may be in place at our home base, the Aravis Lodge, given that we own and manage our own transport and accommodation, and have our own brilliant in-house team – we know that if anyone can, then we will be able to make it happen!
In addition, all of our partners are established local providers who we expect to similarly react accordingly, and do whatever they can to welcome guests back into their hotels.
We certainly feel that the fresh mountain air of the Alps is definitely one environment where you can feel a long way away from the worries and stresses caused by the coronavirus, and enjoy some much-needed relaxation.
However, please be assured that we will of course be reviewing all of these issues as we get more clarity on the restrictions or control measures which may be in place, and which we will be subject to moving forward.
What if the FCO is still advising against travel when my holiday is due to take place?
The safety of our guests and team is paramount, and we would of course be bound by the official advice as to whether we can operate our road cycling trips. The British Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice is key to this, and it is presently “advises British nationals against all but essential international travel”.
We hope and expect this advice to be changed as the situation progresses, as restrictions within destination countries are reduced, and overall transmission / contagiousness risk declines – but it is impossible to predict any sort of timescales.
In the event of this restriction still being in place in the 2021 summer season, we would then sadly be unable to offer your holiday, and so could seek to offer an alternative trip at a later date, or we would be in a situation where the trip would be cancelled.
In this situation (as was the case with the latter part of the 2019 – 2020 ski season) we would offer you a choice between transferring your monies as a credit against a future trip with us, or issuing a full refund.
What if the mountain resorts are still closed when my holiday is due to take place?
Although we would deem it unlikely, it is possible that there may be regional (or departmental) restrictions on activities that can take place in light of the coronavirus measures.
If any of our mountain resorts were unable to open as a result of these coronavirus measures, then we would in the first instance look to find an alternative location, or date for the holiday to take place and you would have the choice to accept the alternative or not.
In the event that we were unable to operate the holiday for you, then we would offer you a choice between transferring your monies as a credit against a future trip with us, or issuing a full refund.
What if I am no longer able to / decide not to travel?
If we are legally able to operate the holiday for you as booked, and you decide not to travel for whatever reason, then this would be deemed a ‘disinclination to travel’, and your cancellation would be treated as per our standard Booking Terms & Conditions, which you agree to when you book.
In this case you would not be entitled to a refund of any payments made, plus there are cancellation charges that apply at various time intervals with regards to the balance payment itself. Please see our T&C’s here >>> – it would be section 6 which governs this.
However, you are welcome to provide a substitute to replace you, at no extra charge, and if you are the group leader, you will need to allocate someone else from the group to take your place.
Of course there are many reasons why people do sometimes have to cancel a trip (such as illness or injury to them or a close family member), and these instances could be covered by your travel insurance.
We strongly recommend you take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy as soon as you book your holiday, in order to take advantage of cancellation cover.
However, please note that it is unlikely to include cover for any coronavirus-related implications, as this is now a “known event” and therefore likely to be excluded from your policy. Please check carefully with your insurer.
What if the airline I booked with is no longer in operation, or unable to operate flights to my destination?
Our packages do not include the flights, and so this element of your holiday is ultimately your responsibility. Our road cycling breaks start (and hence our liability starts) at your holiday destination’s airport, and so it would be your responsibility to find another suitable mode of transport – another flight, train, or self-drive – to arrive for your holiday.
Geneva is currently very well served by at least 5 major airlines from the UK – Easyjet, Swiss, BA, Jet2 and KLM – so we would still realistically expect you to be able to fly to Geneva. Schedules and capacity of these airlines may be different to previous seasons, and so we would encourage guests to book as soon as possible to avoid missing out. Other major airports in France are similarly well-served.
In the unfortunate event of an airline going bust, then the situation with flights and refunds can vary depending on who you booked your flight with – agencies, intermediate sites, or direct with the airline.
If the airline cancels your flight, they are legally obliged to offer you a refund and so you should get your money back. Booking direct with the airline and paying with your credit card (not debit) offers you a clearer process with better protection, as you should be able to get your money back from your card provider under a Section 75 claim if you are unsuccessful with the airline itself for any reason.
What if there are problems with the French/Swiss borders and accessing Geneva?
Travel restrictions and border security could potentially play a part in controlling the transmission of the coronavirus for some time, and so we could expect there to be more stringent checks at airports, borders and entry points into countries as we go forward. This could additionally be the case once the Brexit transition period has ended, and the UK no longer has the same access rights to the European Union.
It is possible that this could then have an impact on the French and Swiss border, which we cross to access Geneva airport in – which could lead to more checks and requirements. We would need to allow more time for the airport transfer journeys, but would be confident that as long as people are legally able to travel, and have the correct documentation, then we should be able to cross the border and transport you from Geneva airport in Switzerland to the French Alps, and back.
France and Switzerland – especially the Canton of Geneva – co-operate together frequently, and work with border issues regularly, so we are confident this will not be a significant barrier to travel.
Geneva relies upon the cross-border travel for around a third of its public service workers, who live in France and work in Switzerland, and there would be a significant impact if the border were to be closed.
However, as a very last resort we are also able to access the French sector of Geneva airport without crossing into Switzerland, although it does not currently have the capacity to deal with all the passengers travelling through Geneva!
What if exchange rates plummet, does that affect the price of my holiday?
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing economic uncertainty, and this could cause significant swings and changes in exchange rates. This may present some challenges to our business as we are exposed to the GBP vs Euro exchange rate – but for you, as a customer you can book safe in the knowledge that your price is fixed, and will not be liable to any surcharges in the event of exchange rate changes.
That’s not to say that the package prices for our road cycling breaks would be immune from such changes in exchange rates going forward, and that prices may have to rise at some point if there is a significant fall of in the value of the pound. But by booking now, you will get your price fixed at the current rates, and we will not ask you for any additional money should rates or prices change after you have booked.
We guarantee that the price confirmed when booking is the price you will pay!
What would you suggest I do with regards to travel insurance?
We would always advise that you take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy as soon as you book your holiday. It is a requirement of our Booking Terms and Conditions that you have an appropriate policy in place for your trip, but insurance doesn’t just cover you while you’re away – it will also cover you for cancellation or anything else that might go wrong BEFORE you make your trip.
However, please do check the level of cover provided by your specific policy and make sure you are fully protected.
It’s highly likely that issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic will not be covered in new policies taken out since March 2020 as it’s a “known event”, and many insurance companies have been changing their policies, and therefore exposure, against such widespread disruption.
Please be aware this may also include people with annual multi-trip policies purchased prior to the coronavirus outbreak, who may now find that trip cancellation as a result of COVID-19 (or any pandemic) is no longer covered.
So, we would strongly advise that you read the policy wording in detail and certainly don’t just go for the cheapest policy you can find.
We recommend an insurance policy with MPI brokers as providing a good level of cover overall, along with a high standard of customer service to assist you. Though do still check thoroughly for yourself that it provides the best option for what you are looking for, as we are not responsible should you later find it is not suitable for your needs, or it hasn’t given you the cover expected in the event of a claim.
You can find further details here >>>