We hope that this series of stories will bring you some comfort during these difficult times. This story shows how an experienced travel advisor can serve as a calming and reassuring influence by keeping travelers informed and understanding how to navigate the most challenging travel situations.
The CFO, EVP of a New York-based financial services firm, was in Barcelona, Spain attending a sports camp with his son. They were due to return to New York on Saturday, March 14. The announcement the evening of March 11 with details regarding the travel bans for Europe led the traveler to contact his admin immediately to secure an earlier flight home, as he was extremely worried he and his son would be stuck in Europe.
His admin called Travel and Transport very anxious in what felt like a desperate situation. Travel and Transport Concierge Travel Advisor Margie Intriago was able to provide the admin with accurate and up-to-the-minute details about the travel ban and let her know that we could get him home on the Friday flight.
"Uncertainty can cause panic. My job at that moment was to use my experience knowing that the US was not going to let Americans remain stranded in another country," said Margie. "It was my job to keep the admin calm, offer the facts, and get the travelers home. It's what we do every day. No matter what role you play in your job, communication, transparency, and patience will get you through any situation."
The traveler later called Travel and Transport directly to determine if there was any way he could depart on March 12. Concierge Travel Advisor Anca Schunk worked with several carriers and found business class tickets that carried an astronomical change fee. After additional consultation with the traveler by the Travel and Transport team, the traveler determined he would take the recommendation to fly back on March 13. In the end, it was the right decision to make as the traveler avoided the hysteria that ensued at the airports on March 12.
"In my role, I work with very seasoned travelers. They have been through numerous travel disruptions and are able to navigate these situations and often rebook themselves or look for alternatives travel options," said Margie. "This situation is different. When the world is stricken by a pandemic, this leads to concern, fear, and uncertainty. It's simply our job to reassure our travelers that we will get them home."
We asked Margie recently about how she felt this pandemic situation compared to 9/11. "In my opinion, the skies were closed down for a brief time during 9/11, but only the cities that were impacted directly by the terrorist attacks had travel restrictions. You could sometimes feel from the travelers' apprehension in flying during those weeks, but there was not pure fear that we are seeing today. It is a scary time. I keep telling my colleagues; this, too, shall pass. We have gone through this before in our industry, and we will survive this," said Margie. "This, too, shall pass."