Happy CAU, located on the first floor of the Student Culture Hall, is an on-campus travel agency designed mainly for CAU students even those off campus. Established in 2006, the travel agency has gained a firm status on campus. It is a pretty busy place, with phones ringing and students dropping by. It is estimated that the travel agency serves up to 10,000 customers annually.
The increase in the number of students using the services in Happy CAU means that the travel agency has succeeded on effectively drawing people's attention. However as is always, popularity and attention calls for complaints and criticism. Students may have seen complaints that deal with Happy CAU on the online community board on the campus website. Many students have complained about similar issues regarding Happy CAU's services. To some, Happy CAU might not have been "happy" enough for them.
The Chung-Ang Herald had a chance to interview Lee Yoon-ju, a Happy CAU representative, to find out more about its services and the tour packages that were specially designed for the Summer and Winter vacation. In addition, as sensitive as it may be, we believed that Happy CAU should be informed of student's voices, and presented a list of complaints before the interview. Fortunately, Happy CAU willingly agreed to share their thoughts on these issues.
Q. When did Happy CAU start offering students budget tours to Europe and India?
A. It was from 2004 when we announced a special package tour to Europe. The following summer season called for 20 students to participate in this special event and the number leaped tremendously, garnering more than 150 students last year. The India trip was first planned in 2007. Statistically, not as many students are showing interest in this tour compared to Europe, but the number is slowly but surely showing an increase. A total of 40 students went on the tour in 2011 and we're expecting more in 2012.
Q. Is there a special reason why you chose the tour destinations as Europe and India?
A. As a campus travel agency, we had to prioritize students as our main customers. And with it, the first package tour destination, of Europe, was chosen as one of the most favored destinations among students. In order to specialize our tour packages and set it apart from other travel agencies in Korea, we created our own tour program specially designed for university students. As for India, we were fortunately able to sign a contract with a supportive tour agency. After traveling to India in person, our whole faculty believes that India will provide students with a great travel experience similar to that of Europe.
Q. When I searched the Happy CAU homepage online, it led me to a site that manufactured posters, name cards, and placards. There was a "TRAVEL" tab that took me to the travel agency site, but all the information I could receive about Europe and India tour were from the two pop ups. Do you intend on making a specialized site just for Happy CAU travel agency or improve the current webpage?
A. We are planning on opening our own website in 2012. However, we believe that just because we do not have our own webpage doesn't mean that students can't get the information they need. Lots of students come by to our travel agency in person and that number just keeps increasing each year.
Q. There was a special corner called the "DoKkabi(Monster in Korean) Event" on the website, can you explain what this is?
A. It's a special event that we organized. It's a way to provide customers with an inexpensive tour, offering tours that were cancelled last minute by other customers. Tour packages that were designed for cheap travel promotions are also offered to customers during the DoKkabi Event.
Q. I hear that students will have to pay \100,000 to make up for their breach of contract. I recall one student saying that Happy CAU did not mention additional cancellation fees to him or her. In order to prevent such misunderstanding, wouldn't it be better if information regarding additional payment had been written on paper, either on posters or brochures? Do you have any intention of adding such information in the future?
A. We make it clear that all clients are informed of the cancellation process when they sign their contract. I also remember this student, and he/she was not a CAU student. So instead of visiting our agency in person, we had talks over the phone and I'm guessing that they missed out on the information for that reason. We believe it is not necessary to provide cancellation fees on our posters and brochures. In order to prevent such misunderstanding, we send a contract that informs clients about cancellation charges and other important information after payment has been made.
Q. One of the most common complaints that CAU students have raised was about additional payment. Unlike the travel expenses that are written on the posters that introduce trips to Europe and India, many students complain that they have made several additional payments. Is there a reason why this is necessary?
A. As with all travel agencies dealing with budget tours, flight tax and night train reservation fees are exempt from the total travel expense. There are variables to consider when making these reservations. In case of night trains, customers can reserve their tickets once they arrive at their destination without having to do so here in Korea. Because of such variables, we have excluded the amount of price from our original travel expenses. However, even with the additional payment, we believe that our travel expenses are reasonable and competitive when compared to other agencies.
Q. Some students have said that there were changes in their departure schedule. Such experiences may cause a great inconvenience to students. Is there a reason why such schedule changes happen and what is the refund policy regarding these issues?
A. Although it is very unlikely for returning flight itinerary to change a day prior to trip, there are occasions where unpredicted events create uncertainty to the schedule. Hence, we try our best to resolve the situation accordingly. If it is caused by the travel agency, we provide compensations for the inconvenience caused. Recently there was a customer on a budget tour who received a flight ticket that was not adherent to his schedule. According to his reservation, he was supposed to travel on China Air which transferred at Shanghai before coming to Korea. We decided to change the ticket so that he would be able to come to Korea on a direct flight. Despite the extra cost that the agency had to pay, we thought it the best for our customer.
Q. Over the past few years, Happy CAU must have gone through lots of trial and error while carrying out its tour packages. There must have been improvements along the way and I hear that even to this day you are working hard to provide students with a better service. Could you elaborate on past and recent improvements?< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >
A. After students finish their tour and return to Korea, they let us know the ups and downs of their tour. These complaints and compliments are all taken into consideration when planning for the upcoming tour program. In fact, years of trial and error have made our tour programs with the best value and variety. In order to prevent future inconveniences, we try to consider all the variables that may affect our customer's trip. We also document all the feedback from our customers so that we don't forget about it in the future.