We Had a Crisis Strategy

I wanted to write about COVID-19 and provide guidance for fellow business owners. I had hoped our current strategy would help us deal with the current crisis. It hasn’t. Here’s what we’re learning.
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I wanted to write about COVID-19 and provide guidance for fellow business owners. I had hoped our current strategy would help us deal with the current crisis. It hasn’t. Here’s what we’re learning.

Just over a week ago, when Jessica from Arival asked me to write an article about COVID-19 and provide insights and possible tips for fellow business owners, the chosen topic was diversification and how our diversified portfolio has helped us deal with the current crisis. It hasn’t. Well, that’s not entirely true; the short version is that pre-COVID-19, we had active interest and ownerships in twelve businesses across two countries, and as of today, just three of these are generating revenue.

Our diversification strategy is geared heavily towards tours, activities, and events. If you’re one of the thousands of owners and operators in this space, you know how that is going. Of the other three, two are producers with mixed model operations that are surviving through adaptation, and the other is in infrastructure engineering, which could be considered the only venture that may go through with limited damage.

So, as our approach to diversification, which only a month ago was paying dividends, is now in the crosshairs of the crisis, there really aren’t too many tips or glimmers of hope I can offer. However, I believe what we have done at Dave’s Travel Group, like many others, can provide some guidance to others, or at the very least, open us up for advice or guidance from others if we are “doing it wrong.” 

For context, Dave’s Travel Group is (before this mess) the leading operator of tours and activities in NSW. We provide the most comprehensive range of tours and activities out of Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle, and Hunter Valley. We own and operate a variety of brands in a way that extends our product range, optimizes costs of delivery, and minimizes overhead through a shared services model. We formed the group in early 2019 and basically were on track for a profitable year (ending 30th June), with royalties being paid to all brand owners, dividends to owners, a positive cash balance with no debt. 

Things were going well back then (February seems like a decade ago). Although we now find ourselves in strange and concerning times, I am not a believer that much can be achieved by standing around crying over spilled milk, we need to shed a tear, take out a cloth, clean up the mess, and go find some more milk.

So, the following are the principles we’re developing at Dave’s as we fight our way through COVID-19. Some I have included a few simple approaches that may assist your thinking; others speak for themselves. I hope they help:

Choose a Survival Attitude

This thing is terrible. The shit has hit the fan, and everything is happening at lightning speed. The scale and gravity of the ever-changing situation takes time to sink in, as does what seems to be an ever-lengthening timeline to recovery. These are all shocks to our systems, and we’re all having to deal with both shock and grief. A massive challenge, and without bravado or sounding like a Tony Robins wanna’ be, you need to make a choice in how you deal with this. For us, our decision as owners of our business was to choose survival. All our plans and actions are focused on getting to the other side of this crisis. While looking after as many of our people and communities as we can.

Resilience is a quality that is built through experience and effort. Our survival attitude is what we have chosen to help develop and build upon our personal and collective resilience. It is the attitude that is guiding all of our decisions, and it will be the attitude that enables us to be operating in some way when this is over.

Know your numbers

By now, you are more than three weeks into this ordeal and should have a handle on your financial position. If you do not, then my advice is to seek support from someone who can quickly and confidently help you get there. If you don’t have a working knowledge of your position by now, I hold grave fears for your business. 

At Dave’s, we have always placed a strong emphasis on knowing our numbers, and it has been from this position that we have been able to make decisions with speed and confidence. Within the past fortnight, Dave’s Board has removed over 70% of monthly overhead from the business and is working to reduce this further while retaining all our full-time employees. We would not have been able to move as quickly if we were not confident in what our accounts were telling us. 

Simple metrics, you must know:

  1. Cash (the amount you have ready access to)
  2. Accounts Receivable (the people who owe you money)
  3. Accounts Payable (the people you owe money to – I include banks and credit cards in this)
  4. Lines of Credit (the amount you have access to, but comes at a cost)
  5. Refunds Due or Expected (the amount you have committed or expect to refund)
  6. Assets (what you own)
  7. Equity (what it all boils down to – but TBH, these amounts don’t mean too much just now unless you have a path to liquidation)

Establish a War Room

This is not as dramatic as it sounds, and by far in most places is probably virtual. For us, it is our Board (2 Owners, the Managing Director and Finance Director) and an established cadence of meetings. Since this began, we have met daily and sometimes more depending upon the urgency of need. Establishing this extraordinary governance approach during the crisis has enabled us to share information, make decisions, and set objectives quickly and concisely. We work within the constraints of remote working; we acknowledge the emotional and financial toll; this is exacting on all of us, and we discuss, debate, and decide as much as possible without undue emotion. Our decision-making process and governance approach are transparent, and where it is not, we move quickly to establish a new “fit for purpose” rules as we go to ensure we can progress. 

Simple Approach:

  1. Know where the buck stops
  2. Establish or enforce decision authorities
  3. Be flexible with how decisions get made, but don’t not make decisions

Form teams

Everyone can’t be involved in everything, and some people in times of stress require more or different types of direction than usual. Too many cooks are a real thing, and right now, everyone has an opinion, so you need to be firm on which decisions you and your people are involved in and, if required, establish teams to deal with specifics.

There is always something to be done, even if your only course of action is to fold, stuff needs to happen. At Dave’s, we have maintained the standard separation between operations management (the day to day stuff that runs the business) and governance (the longer-term, strategic, and often harder decisions required), with the MD being the single connection. 

Major announcements have been made as a group, and the whole team gets together weekly for a virtual happy hour. However, we find maintaining clear separation has enabled each group to get on with what is required.

Enable the unusual from your people

Hard times can often bring out the best in people and provide a chance for some to shine in unique or ways unseen before. But the onus is on the owners and leaders to enable your people to shine. Open up discussions and avenues for your team to offer new approaches, thoughts, and methods to solve problems. Remove any preconceived notions on what each person is good at or what their role has been. Unshackle them and allow them to contribute in ways they are most comfortable in and support them throughout. 

This is always easier said than done, especially during times of stress when some people regress into safety or defense. For our team, bringing all remaining staff “into the tent” within the two defined groups has enabled our people to share experiences, viewpoints, and approaches. It has also meant more people have put their hands up for more things, helping us achieve more, sooner, and with a very active team spirit.

Communicate often and clearly

Regardless of your size or structure (we are now a team of 10), now is not the time for contracting into your shell, avoiding the needed discussions, or using veiled language. Your decisions need to be articulated clearly and promptly. Your stakeholders will appreciate it as will you when and if you are seeking guidance or information in your efforts.

Within Dave’s, we have an unambiguous communication schedule and style. The Board meets twice a week (changed from daily during the initial fortnight) to make decisions, these decisions are relayed and communicated by our MD to the team the same day as the Board meets and vice versa. Major announcements (like we’re downsizing, we’re closing operations, we’re mothballing the business, etc.) come from the Board direct to staff in a clear, no bullshit language. We have only had to do this once so far, and our approach was simple:

  • Be honest
  • Explain the situation and decision rationale
  • Explain the choices and consequences accurately
  • Outline the effects the decision will have on the business and each of them
  • Answer questions
  • Do not hide anything

And of course, our communication is bi-directional, with staff all having access to myself and the broader Board whenever they need it. Our only caveat is, we have made it very clear that the MD is their sole source of truth for anything that affects them. If a question is asked that is specific to a team member’s situation, it will be referred to the Managing Director. This ensures clarity on where to direct questions. It also allows those to receive answers in a timely and effective manner.

Develop your plan

While much of this crisis is happening around us all. And we each have a limited level of control of how it is affecting our businesses and livelihoods, a plan based upon hope is no plan at all. If you are simply crossing your fingers that things will get better… or local, state, or the federal government will make it alright, and your business will recover because of the actions of others – Good luck, I wish I shared your optimism. 

While the solution and end game for this is definitely on a global scale, if you want your business to be on the other side of it, you need to have a plan. A whole series of articles could and no doubt will be authored on this, but for us, our strategy centers around:

  • Budget, split into 2 phases:
    • Survival
    • Recovery
  • Product Mix (now and future)
  • Distribution (now and future)
  • Resources
    • Our People
    • Our Fleet
    • Our Property
    • Our Funds
    • Our systems and data sources
  • Marketing (now and future)

In a nutshell, our survival plan is about repositioning our cost base. This allows us to establish and extend our survivability, our recovery plan is about forming an information-based view on what our future looks like and what we need to do within that new future. I am sure it is not complete. However, we are adaptable and play to this strength.

Adapt the plan

The situation is fluid, the most fast-changing environment many of us have or hopefully will ever find ourselves in. This one is simple, be prepared to adapt your plan and build it in whichever format or tool you are most comfortable with that enables you to adjust it and understand the impacts/results quickly.

Understand available assistance

If you are lucky enough to have your business within a developed country or within a government jurisdiction that is undertaking economic relief and stimulus efforts, you are one of the lucky ones. As a business owner, you need to be active in understanding what assistance is available and what impacts it will have on your business. The same holds true for your personal finances, so stay attuned to the appropriate sources and factor them into your plan. 

We are incredibly fortunate that our core business interests reside within Australia, which has been relatively fast to act and offer economic relief to businesses and households. It provides good and regular information, and by and large, the media does an excellent job of delivering information un-skewed by too much politics. Our plan is in Excel and sits outside our other systems. 

This way, we can adapt it as new information comes to light and allows us to run scenarios that aid decision making. A simple approach:

  1. Choose your tool
  2. Build your plan
  3. Understand the assistance available
  4. Plug this into your plan to understand the impact
  5. Run scenarios
  6. Make decisions
  7. Communicate decisions
  8. Take action
  9. Move forward

Set deadlines

You can have an adaptive plan that has deadlines. Some hard decisions have already been made, there is no doubt more to come, and the best way to make hard decisions is to have a deadline. Make yourself and your teams accountable to deadlines. It enforces a sense of urgency and often provides confidence to your people that progress is being made, and they are not merely tethered to a drifting ship.

Currently, at Dave’s, with our adaptive plan in place we are working to a tiered set of deadlines that make it clear and straightforward for all to understand:

  • The Board operates within a 30, 60, 90 and 180 day set of deadlines each with corresponding downstream deadlines 
  • The Board sets the MD weekly deadlines aligned to the Board level timelines
  • The MD assigns teams members weekly and daily deadlines

Seek help

These are stressful times, and we are absolutely all in it together. There is no stigma or negativity attached to reaching out and asking for help. Our communities and industries are geared to help. It’s in their DNA. And for some, it is what is providing them with a sense of purpose during these difficult times. Find your confidants, your trusted network, or only someone, something, or someplace that you have comfort and confidence in sharing with and lean on them. Likewise, be there for others to lean on.

Our team is open, we talk, we’re here for each other, and we do all we can work as leaders to ensure everyone knows it. We work within defined structures and to set decision and communication patterns, but that does not negate or remove the human to human support we share at Dave’s and beyond. These are unprecedented moments and a crisis like nothing many on earth have seen before, but you are not alone.

Collaborate

Strange times require strange solutions, and that has undoubtedly been the case for us at Dave’s Travel Group. It was enlightening, but at the same time, not that strange for us that our natural tendency when faced with this crisis, the evolving government shutdowns and uncertain future was to reach out to our competitors in a spirit of collaboration. Our thinking was that yesterday these businesses were competitors, tomorrow they might be again. However, today they are potential partners and that we are going to be better off working together.

Although the situation changed exceptionally quickly and the window of opportunity to work with other operators to continue offering limited tours and share loads closed, the sentiment remains. The recovery from this will be long and arduous, the businesses that survive will need to consider the available market and how to interact with fellow operators to jointly re-establish the industry and local markets. The competition will return. However, the focus should be on market rebuilding, which will require a strong spirit of collaboration.

My best advice: Give people time to come to terms with where we are, and allow them to form their own views and plans. Get in touch to open dialogue in a shared spirit of collaboration and enter any conversation and arrangements in good faith on a “no harm, no foul” basis. Discussions may not result in a new agreement, some may progress only to fall apart, the strongest and best will endure.

Have an eye on the future

This will end, sometime, somehow. Although I have my own views on the various scenarios and outcomes, it is not my place, nor do any of you need another theory. What is important here is that while the immediate challenge we all face is literally survival, we must keep an eye cast towards and beyond the horizon and do some thinking about the future. How far forward, what level of confidence you have about that far off place and how your plan to get there is uniquely your own, but you must have a forward-looking mindset if you want any chance of getting to the future. 

Our approach to the future manifests in our plan, its timeline, and imposed deadlines. Right now, we are in the survival phase of our strategy, and we must give ourselves and our team time to adjust to the current reality and space to put our actions in place. At some point (we have a deadline for that), we will switch to the recovery phase, but that does not mean we are not thinking and acting without a recovery mindset and vision of the future now. Having an eye on the future and believing there will be one for us is what drives us forward today.

Be realistic

While a positive and future based mindset is required, so too is a grounding in reality. Things are not right, many people are and will suffer, and we will lose what seems like unimaginable numbers. Right now, the most important thing any of us can do is to follow the advice of health agencies, practice social distancing and isolation for all our sakes. So while this tempers everything we can do right now and for some time into the future, be realistic about what is possible and what is sensible and be realistic with yourself, your people, and stakeholders – your business may not make it through. It is not fair, and some of the losses will be indiscriminate and seemingly random. However, when it comes to your business, you have a chance to preserve, but you need to take action to ensure that if your business suffers a loss, it is either because you called it or you could at least see it coming.

My advice in this regard is based upon what we have at Dave’s. Our teams are made up of a range of characters and personalities that provide balance. Seek advice and views to test your plans and continue to check it and your decisions as you proceed.

Contribute

The recovery of the tours, activities, and event industries will depend upon all of us, and I am a firm believer that we each have a role to play in returning the industry to health. Yes, many things will contribute to and constraint our recovery, but it should not be as a result of a lack of industry participation. Even with depleted numbers, we need to actively contribute and use our collective genius and determination to rebuild.

Whatever course of action you choose to take, I wish you, your families, your communities, and our world the best. My personal advice to everyone is to choose your news sources wisely, follow the directives from health agencies, support as many people as you can, seek help for yourself, get your exercise, eat and drink cleanly and as best you can. Please feel free to get in touch – I, like you, have stuff going on. Still, I am more than happy to chat regardless of whether we know each other or not. And I have to say, I am pretty sweet on this video conference thing now! 

Be safe all.

Links for Dave: 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidphillips5/

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Use of Likeness. By participating in the Event, You acknowledge and agree to grant the Event the right at the Event to record, film, live stream, photograph, or capture Your likeness in any media now available or hereafter developed and to distribute, broadcast, use, or otherwise globally to disseminate, in perpetuity, such media without any further approval from You or any payment to You. This grant to the Event includes, but is not limited to, the right to edit such media, the right to use the media alone or together with other information, and the right to allow others to use or disseminate the media.

WAIVER OF LIABILITY

Attendee and each of its agents, employees, and representatives, hereby waive and release any claim of any type or nature whatsoever against Arival and each of its agents, partners, employees, representatives, successors, and assigns, arising out of or relating to his/her/its participation in Arival or attendance at Arival, including, but not limited to personal injury, damage to personal property, theft, etc. Furthermore, Attendee for itself and each of its agents, employees, and representatives, hereby agree to indemnify and hold harmless Arival and each of its agents, partners, employees, representatives, successors, and assigns from any claim, demand, lawsuit, or dispute of every type or nature whatsoever (including their reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred), arising out of or relating to his/her participation in Arival or attendance at Arival.

LEGAL

This contract shall be governed by the laws of the State of Colorado. The prevailing party in any arbitration or litigation concerning the terms and conditions of this proposal shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Disclaimer of Warranties, Limitation of Liability

Arival gives no warranties in respect of any aspect of the Event or any materials related thereto or offered at the Event and, to the fullest extent possible under the laws governing this Agreement, disclaims all implied warranties, including but not limited to warranties of fitness for a particular purpose, accuracy, timeliness, and merchantability. The Event is provided on an “as-is” basis. The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the speakers, attendees, or sponsors at the Event are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of Arival or any employee thereof. Arival makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented by speakers, attendees, or sponsors at an Arival Event and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.  Arival does not endorse and expressly disclaims all liability relating to any of the products or services provided by speakers, attendees, or sponsors.

Except as required by law, neither Arival nor its affiliates shall be liable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential costs, damages, or losses arising directly or indirectly from the Event or other aspect related thereto or in connection with this Agreement.

The maximum aggregate liability of Event for any claim in any way connected with, or arising from, the Event or this Agreement, whether in contract, tort, or otherwise (including any negligent act or omission), shall be limited to the amount paid by you to Arival under this Agreement.

Miscellaneous

Arival’s failure to exercise any right provided for herein shall not be deemed a waiver of any further rights hereunder. Arival shall not be liable for any failure to perform its obligations hereunder where such failure results from any cause beyond Arival’s reasonable control. If any provision of this Agreement is found to be unenforceable or invalid, that provision shall be limited or eliminated to the minimum extent necessary so that this Agreement shall otherwise remain in full force and effect and enforceable. This Agreement is not assignable, transferable, or sub-licensable by you except with Arival’s prior written consent. This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of Colorado, and the parties shall submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Colorado courts. A party that substantially prevails in action brought under this Agreement is entitled to recover from the other party its reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Both parties agree that this Agreement is the complete and exclusive statement of the mutual understanding of the parties and supersedes and cancels all previous written and oral agreements, communications, and other understandings relating to the subject matter of this Agreement and that all modifications must be in writing signed by both parties, except as otherwise provided herein. No agency, partnership, joint venture, or employment is created as a result of this Agreement, and you acknowledge that you do not have any authority of any kind to bind Arival in any respect whatsoever. 

ARIVAL 360 LAS VEGAS 2022 ON SALE NOW!

ARIVAL 360 Berlin 2023

5 – 7 March 2023 | In-Person

THE event for creators and sellers of Tours, Activities, Attractions & Experiences to connect, learn, and grow their business

Research

Event Refund Program

Please contact us at [email protected] if you need personal assistance.

The Global Refund Program reimburses you for the Ticket Cost of a non-refundable, unused Ticket, less any Refunds if a Ticketholder is unable to use their Ticket due to one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Any serious Injury or any unforeseen serious Illness occurring to a Ticketholder which results in a Ticketholder being unable to attend the Event for which the Ticket is purchased. In the case of such Injury or Illness, the Ticketholder must be examined by a physician, who must advise the Ticketholder in writing not to attend the Event.
  2. Any serious Injury or any unforeseen serious Illness occurring to a Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member which requires the Ticketholder to provide primary care to that person. In the case of such Injury or Illness, the Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member must be examined by a Physician.
  3. Any serious Injury or any unforeseen serious Illness occurring to a Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member that is considered life-threatening or requiring hospitalization. In the case of such Injury or Illness, the Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member must be examined by a Physician.
  4. A Ticketholder receiving a positive COVID-19 Test resulting in the Ticketholder being unable to attend the Event due to a requirement to self-isolate. You must provide evidence of a positive COVID-19 Test.
  5. A Ticketholder who is deemed to be in a high-risk group and is advised by a Physician not to attend the Event. Ticketholder must not have knowledge of being in a high-risk group at the time of purchase.
  6. A Ticketholder’s death on or within 30 days prior to the Event.
  7. The death of a Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member on or within 30 days prior to the Event.
  8. A Ticketholder being directly involved in a Traffic Accident on the day of the event that causes damage to a Ticketholder’s vehicle creates an immediate need for repair to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle.
  9. A Mechanical Breakdown of a Ticketholder’s vehicle within 48 hours of the Event, resulting in the non-use of the vehicle as transportation to the Event. You must provide proof of the Mechanical Breakdown, such as a tow truck or mechanic’s receipt or a police report.
  10. A Ticketholder who is on Active Military Duty having been deployed overseas at the time of the Event.
  11. A Ticketholder being directly or indirectly involved in a traffic accident en route to departure on a Common Carrier resulting in the Ticketholder missing transportation to the Event, provided that the transportation was scheduled to depart no more than 48 hours prior to the Event, and the Common Carrier was unable to accommodate the Ticketholder on later transportation which would arrive in time to attend the Event.
  1. A Ticketholder not arriving at the venue due to a delay by the Common Carrier used for transportation.
  2. Severe weather conditions result in the Ticketholder’s inability to attend the Event. The Ticketholder must be unable to reach the Event by car or Common Carrier. This does not include weather such as heavy snowfall with roads open, ice on roads, or abnormally heavy rain unless the intervention of authorities is involved. If the event is canceled due to weather, the Ticketholder will not qualify for a refund.
  3. Fire, burglary, vandalism, or Natural Disaster causes the Ticketholder’s home to be uninhabitable after the purchase of Tickets and before the date of the event.
  4. Fire, burglary, vandalism, flood, or Natural Disaster causes the Ticketholder’s place of work to be unsuitable for normal business practice after the purchase of Tickets and within 48 hours of the Event.
  5. A Ticketholder’s or their Spouse’s job is relocated 100 miles or more from the Ticketholder’s primary residence. Accepting a new job with another employer is not considered relocation and does not qualify for a refund.
  6. A Ticketholder or their Spouse being laid off or terminated through no action or fault of their own, after at least 3 continuous years of permanent employment with the same employer. The termination must occur after the purchase date. Self-employed workers, volunteer workers, or any other unpaid workers do not qualify for a refund.
  7. A Ticketholder being required to serve jury duty or being served with a subpoena or court order requiring attendance in court the day the Event is scheduled, preventing the attendance of the Event.
  8. A minor Ticketholder being unable to attend an Event because the Ticketholder on whom they are dependent to take them to the Event is unable to take them due to one or more of the reasons listed above.

What We Will Not Refund

No refund will be provided as a result whether directly or indirectly of the following:

  1. Alcohol or substance abuse; or conditions or physical complications related thereto of a Ticketholder or a Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member;
  2. Any general restrictions imposed on traveling or gathering as a result of COVID-19;
  3. Any consequence of war, invasion, acts of foreign enemies, hostilities (whether war be declared or not), civil war, rebellion, revolutions, insurrection, military or usurped power, riot, civil commotion strikes, lockout, terrorism, malicious intent or vandalism, confiscation or nationalization of or requisition or destruction of or damage to property by or under the order of any government or public or local authority;
  4. Nuclear reaction, radiation, or radioactive contamination;
  5. Terrorism;
  6. Pollution or threat of pollutant release;
  7. Any unlawful acts committed by a Ticketholder or Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Members
  8. The Event being canceled by the venue or promoter for any reason (including bad weather);
  9. Lost or stolen Tickets;
  10. Dental treatment, except as a result of an Injury to sound natural teeth;
  11. Participation in any military service, maneuver or training exercise not overseas;
  12. Inability to obtain a visa required for travel;
  13. Making a false or fraudulent refund application or support a refund application by false or fraudulent document, device, or statement;
  14. Submitting your refund request more than 45 days after the Event;
  15. Any expected or foreseeable events not listed under the What We Will Refund section

General Conditions

  • You must provide sufficient documentation to verify your refund request falls under one or more of the reasons listed in the What We Will Refund section.
  • You must make all necessary arrangements to arrive at the event on time.
  • You must not be aware of any material fact, matter or circumstance, at the time the refund protection was purchased, which may give rise to a refund request.
  • You must take all reasonable precautions to prevent or reduce any request for a refund

Unless we agree otherwise:

  • The language of this document and all communications relating to it will be English; and
  • All aspects of the contract, including negotiation and performance, are subject to English laws and the decisions of English courts.

Definitions

  • Accident means an unexpected, unintended, unforeseeable event.
  • Active Military Duty means serving in the armed forces.
  • Common Carrier means an entity licensed to carry passengers for hire by air, or on land or water. Common Carrier does not include vehicle rental companies.
  • COVID-19 means Coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Test means any positive test for COVID-19 that can be evidenced and requires a Ticketholder to self-isolate.
  • Event means an experience or a series of experiences, with specified or expiration dates, that a Ticketholder reserves, registers, attends, or participates in such as sports, performing arts, camps, tournaments, conferences, lodging, specialized classes, spa treatments, or other similar experiences.
  • Illness means a sickness, infirmity, or disease that begins after the Ticket is purchased, which prevents the Ticketholder from attending the Event, and is not a Pre-existing Condition.
  • Immediate Family Member means a Ticketholder’s spouse, parent, child, foster child, stepchild or child-in-law.
  • Injury means bodily injury caused by an Accident, directly and independently of all other causes and sustained on or after the purchase date and before the Event Date.
  • Mechanical Breakdown means a mechanical issue that prevents a vehicle from being driven, a flat tire requiring professional roadside assistance, or a vehicle becoming inoperable. Mechanical breakdown does not include running out of fuel, the need for routine maintenance, or inoperability because of lost, unavailable, or stolen keys.
  • Natural Disaster means flood, wildfire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, blizzard, or avalanche that is due to natural causes.
  • Physician means a licensed/qualified medical practitioner who is practicing within the scope of his or her license/qualification and who is licensed to prescribe and administer medication and to perform surgery that is appropriate for the condition and locality. A Physician does not include someone residing in Your home, an Immediate Family Member, or Your in-laws (parent, child, sibling), aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or legal guardian.

Refund means:

  • Money returned to You by the supplier;
  • Any credit or voucher for future events You receive or are entitled to receive from the supplier; or
  • Any credits, recoveries, or reimbursements You receive or are entitled to receive from Your employer, a credit card issuer, or any other institution.
  • Spouse means a Ticketholder’s lawful spouse as defined by law and includes civil unions and domestic partners.
  • Ticket means the registration or reservation required to attend or participate in an Event and paid for in full by You. A ticket is deemed used once the Ticketholder attends any part of the Event.
  • Ticket Cost means the total amount paid for one Ticket, including any prorated taxes, fees, and shipping costs. Ticket Cost does not include costs added after the refund protection has been provided.
  • Ticketholder means the person to whom this ticket is issued and has an incidence of ownership under this ticket. Ticketholder does not include a Ticket Reseller.
  • Ticket Reseller means a person or entity that buys tickets for the purpose of resale and includes any marketplace designed to facilitate such resale. Ticket Reseller includes ticket scalpers and ticket brokers.

THE “GLOBAL REFUND PROGRAM” IS A PROGRAM OF JSV EVENTS LIMITED WITH REIMBURSEMENTS MADE BY VERICLAIMS, INC. POWERED BY FANSHIELD INTERNATIONAL, LLC AS AN AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE OF JSV EVENTS LIMITED (REGISTRATION NO 10712264)

Welcome to Arival!

Arival is pleased to welcome all of its international attendees to the USA and would like to make the process as seamless as possible.

If you are traveling to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less, you may be eligible to visit the US without a visa if your country is participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

Visitor Visa

Overview

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).

Here are some examples of activities permitted with a visitor visa:

  • Consult with business associates
  • Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • Settle an estate
  • Negotiate a contract

Learn more about  Business Travel to the United States  (PDF – 362 KB) on a visitor visa.

  • Tourism
  • Vacation (holiday)
  • Visit with friends or relatives
  • Medical treatment
  • Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
  • Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

Learn more about  Visitor Visas – Business and Pleasure   (PDF – 1020 KB).

These are some examples of activities that require different categories of visas and cannot be done while on a visitor visa:
  • Study
  • Employment
  • Paid performances, or any professional performance before a paying audience
  • Arrival as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
  • Work as foreign press, in radio, film, print journalism, or other information media
  • Permanent residence in the United StatesThese are some examples of activities that require different categories of visas and cannot be done while on a visitor visa:
    • Study
    • Employment
    • Paid performances, or any professional performance before a paying audience
    • Arrival as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
    • Work as foreign press, in radio, film, print journalism, or other information media
    • Permanent residence in the United States

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please consult the instructions on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions below. Consular officers may require an interview of any visa applicant.

If you are age:Then an interview is:
13 and youngerGenerally not required
14-79Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and olderGenerally not required

You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Visa Appointment Wait Times

Advance travel planning and early visa application are important. If you plan to apply for a nonimmigrant visa to come to the United States as a temporary visitor, please click the button below to go to https:/travel.state.gov where you will find a helpful tool that allows you to look up Visa Appointment Wait Times by U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Prepare for Your Interview

  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. If your visa is approved, you may also need to pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality.

Click here to see all information about Fees for Visa Services.


  • Review the instructions available on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Invitation Letter: If you are in need of an invitation letter in support of your visa application, please email [email protected] with your full name (as it appears on your passport), your passport number, and email address. We will respond within 3 business days.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • The purpose of your trip,
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or
  • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.

Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.

Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant’s residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa.

Attend Your Visa Interview

A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a visitor visa, or if another category is more appropriate for your purpose of travel.  You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing.  The consular officer will inform you if this required.

After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality), and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you.  Review the visa processing times to learn more.

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or a paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn more about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website.

Extending Your Stay

See Extend Your Stay on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn about requesting to extend your stay beyond the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94.

Failure to depart the United States on time will result in being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of individuals who are out of status are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act).  Any multiple entry visa that was voided due to being out of status will not be valid for future entries into the United States.

Failure to depart the United States on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas in the future. Review Visa Denials and Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws to learn more.

Change of Status

If your plans change while in the United States (for example, you marry a U.S. citizen or receive an offer of employment), you may be able to request a change in your nonimmigrant status to another category through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website to learn more.

While you are in the United States, receiving a change of status from USCIS does not require you to apply for a new visa.  However, once you depart the United States you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the appropriate category for your travel.

Additional Information

An individual on a visitor visa (B1/B2) is not permitted to accept employment or work in the United States.

  • There is no guarantee you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • A valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

Further Questions

  • Case-Specific Questions – Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your visa application for status information. Select U.S. Embassy or Consulate for contact information.
  • General Questions – review Contact Us.

What type of Company Are You?

The diverse Arival community includes everyone in tours, activities, attractions and experiences.

Operator company types include: Active/Adventure, Food & Drink, Sightseeing, Cultural, Classes, Recreational and/or Wellness, Tour Guides and Tour Directors, Attractions, Resorts, Experience Hosts and Transportation Companies.

Small Operator

For companies that create, operate, or sell tours/attractions with LESS than $250,000 USD revenue in your last fiscal year.

Med/Large Operator​

For companies that create, operate, or sell tours/attractions with GREATER than $250,000 USD revenue in your last fiscal year.

All Other Companies​

Includes: Distribution / Reseller (OTA, Wholesaler, Local, GDS, Travel Agent, etc.), DMO or CVB’s, DMC’s, Technology, Marketing / Advertising Agency, Training & Education, Consultants, Association / Not for Profits, and all others.

Become an Insider Today!