Robin Amster | November 19, 2015 12:00 PM ET
A Lifeline During Crisis
The recent terror attacks in Paris sadly, but once again, illustrate one of the things that travel agents do best.
Following the tragedy—and throughout the weekend—agents tracked down their clients in the French capital, communicated with them, offered assistance, monitored the situation and even notified clients’ corporate travel managers to assure them that their company’s business travelers were okay.
Travel is a personal business and no more so than in times of crisis. Ironically, because of course no one wants to see the escalating incidents of terror, these remain key times for agents to demonstrate a critical part of the value they provide: not just their travel industry skills, but their personal skills of empathy, concern and support.
This is what Michelle Weller, a Houston, Texas-based Travel Leaders agent had to say about the events in Paris and her response:
“Our Duty of Care software immediately sends us notification of travelers in a danger zone. We had some clients there. We called them on their cell phones immediately. We were able to reach them and one said his hotel was a few blocks from a terrorist strike but he was not scared and wanted to stay until his normal departure date on Tuesday.
“We reassured them [the clients] that we would be standing by to provide assistance and we notified their bosses that they were safe. The Travel Managers for our corporate clients felt really reassured when we were able to tell them pretty quickly the status of their travelers.”
Agents spring into action too in less dramatic situations: storms that paralyze travel, strikes that shut down airlines… the wide range of unforeseen happenings that disrupt clients’ plans and often strand them far from home.
Consumers who routinely book their travel with agents understand this, even though they may not have experienced this aspect of agents’ service firsthand. For others not used to working with agents, the industry continues to hammer away at raising awareness for the kinds of things agents routinely do for their clients in crises—man-made or natural.
The Paris terror attacks are one helluva way for agents to show what they do—and a way no one welcomes—but it remains a potent reminder of what agents are all about.
Try getting an OTA to do the same thing.
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