“Are you aware of the latest news?”. My wife asked me looking concerned.
“No, what about the latest news”. I casually replied.
“They suspended the English Premier League till and WHO declared the situation as a global pandemic!”
At this point, even though my body was tired and jetlagged from the long-haul flight but it did not stop my mind from racing wildly. Uncertainties emerge with regards to my groups in April and May at the front and back of my mind till we got home.
I had just concluded an Anfield Expedition trip back in March and we have just arrived in Singapore. And to hear that news upon returning is a huge blow to Matchday Affairs.
And I thought, if WHO is already declaring as a global pandemic which is unprecedented, then it is a big deal and we have to be ready for the worse as the other countries worldwide might tighten their measures or even close their doors to tourist, specifically in UK.
In addition to that, we had just missed the Stay Home Notice deadline that the Singapore government had just implemented at that time.
I had a long discussion with my wife for the next few days about how should we approach this unfortunate but delicate situation. Calling off the trip before the actual departure might be too harsh because this was a massive decision that can lead to major repercussions if not handled properly.
We then took into consideration TWO (2) major and decisive factor affecting travelling overseas as a whole.
Firstly, if we were to decide and carry on April’s and May’s trip, it will do more harm than good. It might risk many of our customers’ lives and most importantly their love ones as well. The last thing we want is to be a source or a cluster of Covid-19 virus. We feel that it is imperative that we should place safety as the most critical concern to our customers.
Secondly, the government had already implemented the 14 Day Stay Home Notice after returning back from overseas. Should we travel to the UK, then upon returning home, our customers have to serve SHN for 14 days. Most of the customers either won’t have any more leave balance to spare or have very limited leave balance. In which case, they might be forced to take unpaid leave by their employers, an option which would be unfavorable to them.
We had to decide quickly if we were to call off the April’s and May’s trip because our customers by then had already started to ask what will happen to their payment if its indeed called off.
If we decide to call off the trips, more often than not, the customers would expect to be refunded, which is more so in this case, because the services haven’t been fulfilled.
So, we had to factor our expenses which includes our booking of hotels, flights, transportations and most importantly match tickets. At the same time, we have to consider about the customers happiness, our brand reputation and the values that we have as a company.
After a few days of careful deliberation, we decided to call off both the trips and refund the bulk of what have been paid by our customers even though all our expenses are in limbo.
Because we are ultimately a business that is all about helping football fans to make their dreams come true and to deliver memorable and unforgettable experiences. We put utmost importance in our relationship with the customers and the last thing we want is to induce elements of dislike and unhappiness. With the uncertainties creeping in on the economy, maybe the refunds might help them financially in these troubled and challenging times.
And even though that this situation happened due to an uncontrollable circumstance and we might suffer a huge loss from this, we strongly believed that it’s not correct if we use it as a convenient reason for not refunding our customers.
They have already entrusted us with a huge responsibility and paying huge amount of money to realised their dreams. We feel it would be unfair to the customers to hold their hard-earned money when the services are not being fulfilled.
Fast tracked time to the current moment, we were very glad that we had decided then to refund the customers because most of them are affected by these troubled and challenging time. And personally, for me, I would be lying if I didn’t feel the pinch of refunding the customers but at the same time, I felt the burden of responsibility lightened once I had disbursed the refunds.
And we will always hold on dearly to this principle;
“Money lost can still be earned in the future, but it will be difficult to earn the trusts of the customers once its lost”
Even though we are unsure when the travel industry would resume, we have decided that to choose this path for Matchday Affairs. Last but not least, we hope to have your unwavering support in the future once football is safe to resume.
Watch this space for more football fans stories with Matchday Affairs!
Founder of Matchday Affairs