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Beware NETC student travel

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  • Beware NETC student travel

    We are having a difficult experience with the above company. Our two children were scheduled to travel with a teacher on one of their tours. Most people have paid in full and it is now just a few months from travel. The company has completely changed the tour - much less desirable now. The new tour stops are comprised of most that our sons have already visited. Also, the dates have changed - we have already made our plans to meet them and travel on, so these new dates don't work for us.

    This tour is extremely expensive for student travel ($3,000 per student) and we are now told we are out approximately $300 per child. They claim this is a "special deal"! We lose $600 through no fault of our own and it's a deal! These people have been rude and very difficult to deal with - certain people in the company absolutely refuse to speak to us and will only deal with the teachers.

    We would advise anyone who asks us to think seriously about becoming involved with this company.

  • #2
    Re: Beware NETC student travel

    I hate to break it to you - all student travel companies practice this type of tour consolidation and travel date shifting. I know because I used to work in the industry - both as a teacher taking groups, and as a tour planner.

    I understand your frustration with the situation. Parents are often the last "stakeholders" in the school trip planning process to be informed when a tour date or itinerary changes.

    First let me say - I bet your sons had a fantastic time on their trip... yes? NETC is probably one of the best educational tour operators in the business. They charge a little more for their trips, but the tour directors, hotels, food and educational opportunities on tour are always top notch. With cheaper companies like EF and CHA, you often get awful food, hotels way outside the city center and tour directors who could care less about their groups.

    Second - I can imagine your sons' group was very small, and his teacher picked an ususal type of trip, on a date which didn't conincide with other school vacations.

    Had you read the trip planning materials carefully, you would have noticed that NETC (and all the student travel companies) reserve the right to move tours in the Spring up to 3 days, and to change tours to a similar itinerary if they cannot pair your group with another group traveling at the same time. In the summer, they can move your trip up to 10 days. The travel companies are not required to inform you of this by any particular date, though they normally do within 2 months of travel.

    Normally, however, if a group traveling is 40 people or more, the date and tour will not change at all.

    All tour companies, with the exception of a few who own their own small buses, contract 53 seater tour buses in Europe. They pay for each and every seat on the bus up front, along with the tour directors, and therefore try to fill them. That is why often, you might see groups of 5, 15 and 20 combined on one bus. It is a simple lesson of economies of scale (with more volume, the tour companies have to pay less for services).

    Believe it or not, a company like NETC charges very little margin on their tours. They do not (contrary to what one might think) make lots of revenue per student... travel costs a lot, and gets more and more expensive every year.

    Bottom line - while I can understand your frustration, there are five main things to remember when signing up for a student trip run by a company like NETC or any of the others...

    1. Are the travel dates guaranteed in writing?
    2. Is the tour / itinerary guaranteed in writing?
    3. Do any of these guarantees depend upon how many students enroll (and stay enrolled) on the tour?
    4. What do I (as a parent) stand to lose if my child must cancel for any reason, at any point before the tour?
    5. Always read all the information closely before signing up

    And lastly - never book your own travel arrangements to meet your child in Europe - or any group being run by a tour operator - unless you have a guarantee in writing regarding the departure and return dates, and itinarary.


    • #3
      Re: Beware NETC student travel

      Hi everyone.

      I just want to say that I love the company that did the trip I traveled on. Everyone is dissing NETC. I don't know them but the company that did the travel I was on was great. The trip was especially designed for our group (students). We got to go where we wanted and there weren't any weird changes. The price was in the 3000s but it was exactly the price. There wasn't any 'starting at' and then went way up from there (I have friends with that experience).

      So not all companies are bad!



      • #4
        Re: Beware NETC student travel

        My son is currently on a trip with NETC - June 2009. I have only positive comments to report regarding this premier educational tour company. Yes, the original tour was changed from one location to another, and yes the tour dates changed as a result. Our group built a custom tour, approx. 9 months in advance. At about month 6, NETC asked if we could revise the trip - it made sense to do it. And we all understood the circumstances in advance - that change is possible. My son wanted a friend to join him at the end of the trip and they'd continue on their own. We told him no...change could occur. If he and his friend wanted to continue their central america trip - his friend would need to meet him back here in Seattle and they leave from here. This is the way it goes. NETC has been a very positive experience for those who understand what they are signing. I highly recommend this company.


        • #5
          Re: Beware NETC student travel

          And whats the question?


          • #6
            Re: Beware of World Strides student travel

            I recently found out that World Strides has been using a recently charged child sex offender. I would NOT use this company. I called my sons teacher to ask questions and she said to ignore. I went ahead and did my own research and found out that this "Mountain Man" that works for World Strides was recently arrested in El Dorado County!

            I called a few other companies to switch my sons school from traveling with World Strides and the teacher had the nerve to say "we're already booked with World Strides and we're not changing". I have since then pulled my son from the field trip. After several weeks of research I came to find out that World Strides is PAYING teachers a "stipend" or some type of money for each child they get to travel with them. This is why they didn't want to switch to the company I had recommended. I am hoping for a full and thorough investigation from the school and Department of Education!

            A concerned parent.


            • #7
              Re: NETC student travel

              I am a teacher who has taken students abroad with NETC many times. Since I always take more than 25 students, we have our own bus, tour director, and the dates of the tour don't change because we don't have to work around the schedule of another school. It is really up to the teacher to be clear with parents about the terms of the trip. NETC does a great job of educational travel!


              • #8
                Re: Beware NETC student travel

                Beware, indeed! We just returned from an NETC tour of Rome, Sorrento and Athens. The pace was so grueling, that few of the kids (ages 11-18) could even remember, much less appreciate what they were seeing. NETC seems to have little regard for children's need to get enough rest and food. The kids were kept out past 11:00 most nights and awakened at 5:30 or 6:00 most mornings. The last night of the trip we were taken to a "taverna" for dinner (actually a disco in a bad part of Athens) and were not returned to the hotel until midnight. Wake-up call the next day was a 4:00 am. We then had to get all these exhausted kids through a nineteen hour day of international travel. The food throughout the trip was mediocre to downright bad (12 euros for bad pizza, french fries and soda near Pompeii.). Don't even get me started about the brilliant idea to heard 57 people (38 of them children) on the metro at rush hour in Rome. I thought this demonstrated a disregard for the safety of the kids. It was very dangerous. Having witnessed the way they run their tours, I would never reccomend that any responsible parent allow their child to go on an NETC tour.


                • #9
                  Re: Beware NETC student travel

                  I just returned from a wonderful, memorable tour with NETC. We traveled from Barcelona to Rome, along the Mediterranean, accompanied by a very knowledgeable (and fun!) tour director. The hotels and the food were all expertly chosen and the pace was perfect. Students experienced so many things that they had never experienced back home -- lively streets (Las Ramblas - Barcelona), chateaux forts (Carcassonne), Roman towers (Tour Magne - Nimes), a Roman aquaduct (Pont du Gard), walks along the Mediterranean (Nice, France), a royal palace (Monaco), the Leaning Tower (Pisa), amazing Renaissance art (Florence) and unforgettable Rome (and yes, complete with metro and bus experience.) Many of the parents who accompanied us are eager to join the next tour. Thank you, NETC for our best tour yet!


                  • #10
                    Re: Beware NETC student travel

                    Glad your experience was better than ours, but that doesn't change the fact that NETC provided us with a grueling, subpar experience.


                    • #11
                      Re: Beware NETC student travel

                      I'm sorry your group didn't have a good experience. Perhaps a group smaller than 57 and an itinerary that takes you to fewer places might help you feel less rushed. (We had a wonderful tour of London and Paris once, and enjoyed staying in each hotel longer and exploring the cities...)

                      Were you the head teacher on this trip?


                      • #12
                        Re: Beware NETC student travel

                        Perhaps you have confused NETC with another student travel organization? They are mostly acronymns so it is easy to do! We did not have any programs with 57 travellers in Italy and Greece so far this year. The most travellers we would ever put on a bus would be 50 and more typically we would have 35 to 40. Decisions about how late students should stay out would be up to the teacher chaperoning the group. Any meal NETC books for a group is included as part of the program. Lunches are usually not included and so are chosen by each participant.

                        We are always open to feedback to how our programs could be improved so if you were on a program this spring please feel free to let us know which teacher you went with and we can address the specifics.


                        • #13
                          Re: Beware NETC student travel

                          I was not an official chaperone - just a parent participating in a tour with my child. Our NETC tour guide was Vanessa. Although I thought we would be able to choose our own lunch places, that was often not the case. (e.g. stopping at an Autogrill on the motorway or being told that there was only one place to choose from near Pompeii - the place where we had bad pizza and french fries for 12 euro.) Vanessa seemed to be determining how late we stayed out much of the time. It was she who arranged for us to go to dinner at 9:00 pm when we all had to rise at 4:00 am the next day for a 19 hour day of international travel. Vanessa was delightful company, but the adults on the trip found her to have little regard for allowing the participants to get enough rest. It made the trip very difficult.
                          Last edited by SarahS; 04-09-2010, 10:21 AM. Reason: Edited out employee's last name


                          • #14
                            Re: Beware NETC student travel

                            Thank you for the feedback. I believe your group had a customized program arranged by us to the group leader's specifications, hence the number of participants was larger than is normal. I am glad that there were aspects of the program that you enjoyed and appreciate your comments regarding the scheduling of the lunch and last dinner in Athens.


                            • #15
                              Re: Beware NETC student travel


                              Companies sometimes becomes very rude to our plan as they want to meet their targets. They have already some plan done which they don't tell us and finally at the last minute they inform us, which causes a lot fo problems, specially to the parents. Companies should make the sytem transparent, If their is any change in the schedule they must immediately inform us.


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