I just wanted to reflect a bit about the Dojo U Cruise publicly. First off, for those who stuck with us throughout "the ordeal" and were such positive forces throughout, I am hugely grateful. At times my own spirit was a bit crushed with the weight of everything, but it was y'all who helped me re-focus and keep the train on the tracks despite all of the challenges. So, thank you!
I wanted to take a few words to walk you through the experience from my point of view, because, unfortunately, we have one vocal critic regarding how we handled this situation. I don't think I'll change that person's mind with this post, but at least there will be a public record here regarding our decision-making during the process.
Recap: Our ship was delayed several times (across several days) before leaving on this year's cruise, due to complications surrounding the possibility that passengers on a previous cruise had corona-virus. This was really stressful for all passengers, and we were "stranded" in Newark while Royal Caribbean decided what to do about it.
Meanwhile, we were tasked to figure out what to do about the Dojo bagpipe programming on the cruise. Because there was no indication the cruise would actually be cancelled, we decided to carry on with the programming as best we could. Too many had come too far (at great expense) to simply "give up."
We persevered by finding conference space in Newark, and other opportunities to play, learn, and socialize together. It wasn't ideal, but we did the best we could to deliver top-quality bagpipe instruction despite the challenges.
At the end of the whole ordeal, we delivered 4 full days of instruction to those who participated. It wasn't perfect, and a lot of plans had to be altered, but I feel like it came off well. To those who stuck with us, we offered them the following to "assuage" any feelings of disappointment about how much of an ordeal their bagpiping vacation had become:
- 3 free months of Dojo U Premium
- A guaranteed "super early bird" rate on next year's cruise, regardless of when they decided to enroll again.
27 of our 31 students stuck with us, and there have been no complaints since we got home expressing dissatisfaction with what we delivered. Of those who went home,
- 2 people have been in contact with us about common sense "barter" solutions not dissimilar from our offer to attending students above.
- One person I haven't heard from at all during or since the cruise time-frame.
- The final one emailed us to demand a refund, threatening a "social media crusade" if we didn't give him his entire money back.
Why we won't be offering any full refunds.
Carl and I thought pretty hard about the issue of whether or not we would offer a refund to those who went home. In the end, we came to the conclusion that "common-sense crediting towards future events" was the best way to handle the situation. For example, we could offer folks Dojo U membership discounts in future months, or offer discounts to future Dojo in-person events for those who were interested.
Full refunds, on the other hand, didn't make common sense to us. Here are some of the main reasons why:
- The situation was outside of the control of the Dojo. We had no control over the virus, the government regulations surrounding the virus, and Royal Caribbean's decisions surrounding the situation. Therefore, for us to simply do our very best to provide great bagpipe instruction was all we could do. And we did our best.
- We do have a 100% refund guarantee for those who aren't satisfied with any of our products and experiences. However, common sense dictates that if a personal didn't even show up to the event, they can't have been dissatisfied with our product, therefore this cannot apply to them.
- We also have a 50% refund policy for those who decided to cancel after November 1st, 2019. However, common sense dictates that this applies only to refund requests up until the cruise (not after).
- Royal Caribbean did a fantastic job refunding people for cruise days missed, and hotel stays required during the ordeal. They even gave us a 50% credit towards a future cruise. You couldn't have asked for better compensation from them. And, I don't think anyone "lost money" who stuck around.
I 100% understand and support that a few people thought it best not to join us on the cruise. I want to do everything I can reasonably do to make that decision less painful for you from a "lost funds" perspective. Again, to those who reached out to work on common-sense solutions, I say "thank you" for your amazing support during all of this!
We'll see most of you soon at Dojo U and/or at our next event!
All the best,