Many students looking forward to a trip full of snow, fun, and Canadians were left unhappy this weekend, as the annual SnowJam trip, sponsored by Campus Vacations, was full of disappointment for many prospective vacation-goers.
Typically, students leave Boston College either Thursday or Friday around noon, and arrive in Canada in about six hours. Students who plan on going can purchase packages that include a place to stay, lift tickets, ski or snowboard rentals, and a Top of the Mountain party.
This year, inclement weather and mechanical failures left some students stranded on the bus for as long as 23 hours.
“SnowJam was a highly anticipated trip for my friends and I, and it was unfortunately not by any means what it was promised to be,” said Kelly Miller, A&S ’15. “We left from Boston 12 hours later than we were supposed to and spent 23 hours on a bus ride getting back to Boston.”
Colin Quinlan, a bus captain for the trip and CSOM ’15, had a similar experience, but still said he managed to enjoy the trip.
“We were supposed to leave at 11:30 a.m. on Friday and we waited for seven hours, having Campus Vacations lead us on. However, they finally said the buses weren’t coming and we couldn’t go on the trip,” Quinlan said. “So three buses of kids were denied the trip, but some kids made other arrangements, including the midnight bus.”
Quinlan and many other students arranged to take a Greyhound bus from South Station to Canada, after the buses sponsored by Campus Vacations failed to show up to pick up students. However, some students, like Peter Heffrin, CSOM ’15, were unable to go on the trip.
“I waited for the buses to arrive on Newton campus until about 6:30 at night, when they were supposed to be there at 11 a.m.,” Heffrin said. “There was a late night bus leaving at 12:30 a.m. from South Station, but I decided that the trip would not be worth it for just one night and a total of almost 16 hours of driving.”
After arriving, shuttle service between students quarters and the mountain was interrupted due to inclement weather, causing many students to miss planned events.
Campus Vacations responded to student concerns with an e-mail sent Monday afternoon.
“Our goal at Campus Vacations is to ensure you and your group have a trip filled with awesome events, amazing skiing/boarding, and great times in between,” the e-mail read. “Unfortunately, we did not deliver 100 percent of this to some of you this past weekend. For this, we apologize and are going to do everything in our power to restore your confidence in our company.”
Campus Vacations explained the reasons for the delays, including inclement weather and mechanical problems, and offered some compensation to students.
“Although certain aspects were out of our control, you’re all our clients and some of you did not receive the complete trip that you paid for—and went through some frustrating experiences,” the e-mail read. “If you were negatively affected by any of the above issues, you will be receiving a follow up [e-mail] with details on your compensation package.”
Based on their personal experience with the trip, students were offered different reimbursement packages. Students who were able to go on the trip but had delayed bus service were offered one third of a refund, while students who did not attend at all were offered a full refund.
Paul Arlin, director of operations for Campus Vacations, commented on the problems with the trip as well, pointing out that many of the problems were unavoidable.
“Our intention isn’t to pass responsibility onto weather or our subcontracted bus companies—the students are our clients and we are reimbursing students who didn’t get the full trip they paid for, regardless of what the reasons were,” Arlin said in an e-mail. “I do however want the students to know that most events were out of our control, why certain events took place, and what we’re doing to compensate them and ensure this doesn’t happen in the future.”
Even with the compensation and some fun while in Canada, Miller said she was overall disappointed in the trip.
“For the few hours I was able to snowboard, Mont Tremblont was beautiful,” Miller said. “The village also offered a ton of shops, restaurants, and bars. The trip had the potential to be awesome but Campus Vacations was extremely unorganized and the transportation ruined it for me.”
Quinlan spoke similarly, saying that the trip was fun despite the stress it caused.
“We made the best of it, but overall Campus Vacations did not communicate very well with the clients and a lot of people were frustrated with them,” Quinlan said. “However, they are compensating people accordingly in a fair and reasonable manner and are listening to people’s concerns. As a company they probably had a very, very difficult weekend.”