As much as you can do on the ground as an agent, sometimes the trickiest circumstances happen while your client is on a trip.
And when this happens, try as you may, things don’t always go to plan.
Travel Weekly has recently been looking into what agents can do in an emergency both for their clients and their company as a whole.
So, House of Travel’s Barry Mayo sat down with Travel Weekly to talk us through emergency practices, in particular, to always expect the unexpected.
“The unexpected can happen while on holiday – emergencies, natural disasters, flight cancellations, accidents and illnesses do not always happen conveniently between 9am and 5pm and it is important is that travellers are vigilant and use common sense,” Mayo said.
“Unfortunately, we are living in an age where terrorism is a reality and if the unthinkable happens, we advise our clients to take official warnings seriously and follow the advice of local authorities,” he added.
Sadly, such measures were recently taken by travellers in Hawaii, when a false missile alert was sent out and left uncorrected for almost 40 minutes.
At the time, a particularly wonderful story from Travel Weekly US shared the lengths one agent went to in order to do as much as she could for her clients who were in Hawaii at the time.
According to the site, Marilyn Clark, owner of Lighthouse Travel in Huntington Beach, California, worked her little butt off for those terrifying 38 minutes, and many more after that, to provide the utmost support for three separate client groups in Hawaii at the time.
She found out about the alert when one of her clients texted her.
“They were at the pool at their hotel when they received the alert and they didn’t know what to do,” she told TW US, admitting that the hotel staff couldn’t do much to help.
“I told them to get indoors right away and to ask if there was a basement they could go to,” Clark said.
Every agency has its own practices and procedures when dealing with an emergency, though most are more or less the same.
Speaking with TW, Mayo said TravelManagers advocate following the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade travel advisories.
“Our focus in such an event is to provide each client’s personal travel manager (PTM) with as much information as possible, as quickly as possible, in order to track down and ensure the safety of any clients that may have been affected.”
“Thanks to the company’s Disaster Management Plan, TravelManagers national partnership office (NPO) has an automated process.”
For TravelManagers, the process is internal.
“If an incident occurs anywhere in the world both the NPO and individual PTMs can each run their own ‘Client Location Report’,” Mayo said.
“This works to identify if and which clients may be impacted and require assistance enabling their PTM or in a PTMs absence the NPO to contact them and check their circumstances,” he added.
“For PTMs, this support, and the speed with which this information is available is invaluable and gives our clients peace of mind that no matter if tragedy strikes, their PTM will be aware immediately and be there to support and provide assistance any time day or night.”
This sentiment was echoed by other travel experts in the industry.
Talking to TW, Mobile Travel Agents (MTA) co-
“WE DO KNOW WHERE OUR MTA CLIENTS ARE WHEN THEY ARE TRAVELLING BUT LIKE EVERYONE, WE ELSE RELY ON NEWS SERVICES TO LEARN ABOUT EVENTS SUCH THE HAWAII FALSE MISSILE ALERT, PLUS OF COURSE FROM OUR CLIENTS DIRECTLY,” HE SAID.
“We always encourage clients to contact their MTA Member if they have any concerns at all, from everyday travelling issues through to major incidents.
“Each situation requires specific assistance and MTA is always contactable on a 24/7 basis for collaboration and to give an appropriate response.”