WorldStrides Should Emerge From Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in October
The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has dismantled our day-to-day concept of ‘normal’ and wrecked havoc on the economy, as well as professional and youth sports. Several companies have filed bankruptcy during this unprecedented pandemic. Here is an update on WorldStrides’ prepackaged Chapter 11 plan of reorganization.
One of the casualties of the Coronavirus COVID-19 is the Lakeland Tours, LLC d/b/a WorldStrides which filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. While it is a prepackaged Chapter 11 plan of reorganization, and WorldStrides expects to emerge from the court proceedings on solid financial group, it is another clear indication of the financial impact of COVID-19.
Two weeks ago, Robert Gogel, President and Chief Executive Officer of WorldStrides, said “Our industry has been at a standstill due to the pandemic. We were on track to deliver record-level business activity across many of our brands, but COVID-19 has had a significant impact.”
WorldStrides’ sports division, Excel International Sports, caters to the youth soccer world. Started by Eric McAleer in 1998, Excel became part of WorldStrides in 2015. A former European professional soccer player, McAleer understands how soccer unifies our world through a shared passion for the beautiful game. Now, as WorldStrides’ Senior Vice President and General Manager – Sports Programs, McAleer believes these tough times will pass and can’t wait for the pandemic to be the rearview mirror.
“Sports bring the world together.”Eric McAleer, WorldStrides Senior Vice President and General Manager, Sports Programs
“The experiences we provide students — combining a high-level of play against international teams, with activities, sightseeing, and team bonding — emphasize the common language of competition and sports across the globe,” said McAleer.
During an interview with McAleer, he sung the praises of WorldStrides. From the support staff to the vast buying power of a company that arranges travel for 500,000 students and athletes a year, WorldStrides has been a market leader.
In May, WorldStrides was criticized and named in a proposed class action over allegedly refusing to provide refunds for trips canceled or rescheduled due to the COVID-19 crisis. Now, WorldStrides is processing refunds — although slower than most customers want. The company pledges to provide refunds and has detailed information on its website FAQs. Refunds vary, based upon multiple factors, including whether or not travel protection insurance was purchased and are less non-recoverable costs.
Eric McAleer on Looking Towards a Brighter Future
“Our WorldStrides Back to Travel Task Force has been establishing guidelines around safe travel in the new COVID-19 world,” said McAleer. “They are closely monitoring the evolving standards of the education community and the travel industry and taking important steps to update health and safety practices to ensure WorldStrides is ready to travel when the world is ready.”
“Right now, it is about keeping players safe.”Eric McAleer
McAleer has no doubt that WorldStrides will pick up where it left off and continuing to provide international soccer tours for college, university, US Youth Soccer’s ODP, as well as service the youth soccer club, academy and high school teams. The question is, of course, when will it be safe to do so.
“Prior to the pandemic, sports travel and tours was one of the fastest growing parts of the WorldStrides portfolio,” said McAleer who maintains the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing was a carefully planned and well constructed effort. “This recapitalization will enable WorldStrides to navigate the pandemic and continue our successful 50-year history offering innovative programs and transformative experiences for our participants around the world.”
WorldStrides Sports has been an industry leader in organizing international sports tours for North American teams.
“We voluntarily filed a prepackaged Chapter 11 plan of reorganization,” said McAleer. “The agreement was approved by 85% of the creditors.”
“We expect to complete this process by October 2020.”Eric McAleer
Traveling with a soccer team is one of the best experiences a youth player can have. Exploring the world, and discovering how people across the Atlantic — who speak different languages — can share the same passion and joy for playing soccer is life changing. WorldStrides expects to be back helping American soccer teams discover international competition … when it is safe to travel again.