By Emily Peters
These days, more people are becoming aware of the value of the modern travel professional. Once thought to be relics of the past, travel agents have proven again and again that their skills extend beyond travel planning.
As part of the travel tribe, it’s always good to be reminded of why your services as a travel consultant are worth their weight in gold. Here are 5 times travel agents came to the rescue for their clients.
1. SoCal Gas Leak
In October 2015, a massive, months-long gas leak in Porter Ranch (an LA neighborhood) displaced thousands of people from their homes. Rather than being left to fend for themselves, it was the work of several dedicated travel professionals that secured hotel housing for the 8,000 families in need of temporary shelter. Montrose Travel played a significant role in the relocation efforts, and was recognized with ASTA’s (American Society of Travel Agents) Extra Mile Award in 2016.
2. Blizzard woes
Inclement weather in the US has left thousands stranded in airports and train stations. Travelers who book through online travel agencies or even direct with the airlines frequently find themselves at the mercy of bare-minimum customer service. However, those who booked with travel professionals during January 2014 fared much better. After snow storms downed or delayed over 12,000 flights, their travel agents were available 24/7 to rebook flights and secure hotels so their clients could sleep in a comfy hotel bed instead of an airport chair.
3. Costa Concordia disaster
When Costa Concordia-survivor Albert Beach escaped the tragic cruising accident in January 2012, he found himself stranded in Italy, unsure of how to get back to the US. Rather than working with the airlines, he contacted his travel agent Jackie for help. “She had two to four hours from the time she was notified that we would like to get out of Rome, and she had us out,” said Beach, who had been a loyal client for 20 years. He was safely home in New Mexico within 48 hours.
4. Client loyalty
Booking through a travel professional means built-in support, but sometimes travelers choose to buy elsewhere. For Terry Regan of Berkeley’s Northside Travel, his loyalty remained with his client when a longtime customer recently grew ill during a tour she didn’t book with Regan. Instead of declining to help, Regan cancelled the tour, booked her an immediate flight home, and worked directly with the tour operator to make sure her insurance would cover the ordeal.
5. Hurricane harbor
Hurricane Irene was no match for agent Rick Ardis of Ardis Travel’s foresight. When he booked two clients on a trip to Punta Cana, he urged them to purchase travel insurance. Sure enough, Irene bombarded the island twice, prompting Ardis to secure his clients an upgraded room to wait out the storm, re-route their flight out of the hurricane’s path and book a car so they could drive the rest of the way home. “Because they listened to my advice and bought insurance, they were reimbursed for everything, even the cost of the gas to drive home,” said Ardis. “They were very grateful, and they are still my clients.”
From illness to accidents to inclement weather, travel professionals are always there to save the day. Be proud of your involvement in this great industry and never hesitate to go the extra mile for your client in their time of need!
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