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Jacqui Whitt, owner of Adios Adventure Travel, recently organized a 15-day itinerary for a mother and her college-aged son to visit Machu Picchu, the Amazon jungle and the Galapagos Islands.
Unfortunately, three days into the trip the mother fell while hiking in the Amazon and broke her arm. Since a travel agent's job doesn't stop once the booking is complete, Whitt sprang into action.
"Her son was able to call me in the United States from the lodge," said Whitt in Virginia Beach, Virginia. "While the local guide transported them by canoe to the nearest village, I was on the phone booking them on the last flight out of the jungle that day. I contacted our guide in Cusco who arranged for an ambulance and doctor to be waiting at the airport."
The mother and son arrived in Cusco and mom were taken to a local clinic where her arm was set in a cast. "Bless her heart if she didn't stay on that trip right to the very end," said Whitt. "It was truly a trip of a lifetime. Not a typical day for me, I'm happy to say."
Sandy Nussbaum-Giercyk once helped her client who "lost a day."
"She knew her tour started on a Wednesday but lost track that she had to leave Tuesday to make it from New Jersey to Greece," said Nussbaum-Giercyk, owner of Instant Impressions Travel Services in Denville, New Jersey.
"She called me hours prior to the flight, not having a car service scheduled, not being packed and the airport was two hours away. The tour provider worked with the airline and offered us an $18,000 rebooking fee and changing their non-stop flight to a layover."
Nussbaum-Giercyk asked to be added to the record locator, worked with the airline and rebooked her clients with no penalty. "I reached out to the tour guides and let them know the couple would now arrive about 30 minutes late and told them anything they can do to help stall the opening cocktail party would be great," she said. "I then reached out to the hotel and had a bottle of wine waiting in their room. They had a great trip, became clients for life and refer guests."
Friedman said that when something goes wrong on a trip, nearly 99 percent of the time the agent is the one that gets blamed.
"Even for bad weather," she said. "Some of them know how to handle the situation before it arises, but sadly, not enough agents have had proper customer relations training. When I speak to travel groups or agents, I can't emphasize enough that more business is lost due to poor service and poor treatment than poor product."
Travel agents and customer relations representatives are on the front line of the business. Friedman said that it's key that they are knowledgeable, polite, positive and helpful in solving all client issues and problems.
Lisa Iannucci has written many travel articles for national magazines and newspapers. Over the years, her travel articles have...
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