We all know that business travel doesn’t always go smoothly. Despite best-laid plans, flights can be cancelled, natural disasters can shut down transport and unexpected health issues can really throw a spanner in the works.
If you’re the kind of traveller who likes to have your travel booked so you can just turn up and enjoy your trip, then read on for five curly situations when you’d be glad you had a travel manager to help you out.
Your international flight is cancelled the night before
When Melbourne-based Travel Manager Erin Price checked on the status of a client’s flight before she headed home on a Friday evening, she noticed the flight – for mid-morning the following day – had been cancelled. Due to fly out of Melbourne at 11:35am and into Los Angeles for a connecting flight to Chicago, the traveller had no idea that they had been displaced and rebooked by the airline for two days later
“I tried to call (the client) multiple times without success, so I called his travel booker and made them aware of the cancellation; he didn’t know about it at that stage. I was able to secure him a seat leaving at 6:00am flying via Brisbane instead, which meant he would still land in LA in time to catch his connecting flight to Chicago,” said Erin.
While it was that easy for the traveling businessman, who works for a product development company, there was more to it for Erin.
“This was the last seat on the flight from Brisbane to LA, and the flight from Melbourne to Brisbane was actually sold out too. I was able to get the airline to push through an extra seat for me so I could confirm him on the new route,” said Erin.
Needless to say, the client was very thankful that Erin could get him a seat when the airline wasn’t able to. And his business trip to Chicago went ahead without a further hitch.
You end up in a hospital in Thailand
When a client who was in Myanmar for work with her educational research organisation was transferred to a hospital in Thailand, Melbourne-based Travel Manager Cory Lee stepped in to support her by doing what he does best.
“I was able to get her husband, who works for the same company, on a flight to Udon Thani that same night. Then when they were cleared to fly home a few days later, I got them both on business class flights to come home,” said Cory.
In the background, Cory also cancelled and arranged refunds for the client’s existing return flight and contacted her hotel in Laos to cancel and refund pre-booked accommodation and transfers. The client was travelling with a colleague, so Cory rebooked them on earlier return flights home to Melbourne.
It’s times like this when you’d be thankful to have a travel manager to call on.
You need a group booking confirmed for the next day
For Travel Manager Christina Medeiros, a day’s work of booking travel continued into the night when her client in the retail fashion industry had a group booking that needed to be finalised for the following day.
“The booking had been ongoing for the week with back and forth emails. Confirmation finally came through late in the evening and the booking was for the next day. I had to re-quote flights as there were changes to the original request and it was turning into a stressful situation for the client with time running out,” said Christina.
To help reduce the pressure to finalise the booking, Christina gave the client her mobile number so they could continue to work on the group booking from home, after-hours.
“The traveller had a young child, so I logged on after she had put her child to bed. After numerous texts, emails and a call, we finally ticketed all the flights for the group and all itineraries were on-sent to each of the travellers for their early morning flight,” said Christina.
Now that’s taking personal service to the next level.
Natural disasters leave you stranded in remote PNG
When two travellers from a power tool company were headed to Kimbe, a remote part of Papua New Guinea, their travel experience turned out to be even more than their Travel Manager, Kato Hayato, could imagine.
Shortly after arriving safely, the duo was left stranded after two bridges washed away and flights were cancelled due to a recent volcanic eruption. Kato got straight to work with the after-hours team and the client’s main travel booker to work out alternative options to get the travellers out.
“The only option out was a helicopter evacuation. We were able to get in touch with Niuguini Helicopters and talk to their Australian Pilot to get (the travellers) out safely,” said Kato.
Thinking outside the box, Kato was able to arrange payment for the helicopter transfer via the accommodation where the travellers were staying, as they were existing creditors.
“We spent two days going back and forth as the initial day was too dangerous to fly them out with the winds and volcanic ash. The second day cleared up and we were able chopper them to Rabaul which had flights back to Sydney and Brisbane via Port Moresby. In the end, they made it home safely and the client were able to claim these expenses through their company insurance with our documents,” said Kato.
Once home safely, the client was full of appreciation for Kato’s efforts, sending this feedback through:
"Words can’t express my gratitude for all you did to help get us out of PNG. But please let me just say Thank you. I know there was so much going on behind the scenes… It’s great to be home again. Thanks a million."
You like to travel like a VIP
Meeting her clients’ needs is all in a day’s work for Sydney-based Malin Sautelle. The experienced Travel Manager knows her clients so well, she pre-empts their needs. Like calling ahead when the head of a manufacturing company is running late for a flight.
“My client travels frequently and is treated like a VIP. We make him our first priority when he or his EA contacts us. He often has last-minute requests that we’re happy to cater to, like calling the airline if he’s running late to check if the flight is on time; and making contact with the hotels he is staying at to ensure his requests of a non-smoking room on a high floor and away from lifts is met,” says Malin.
When you’ve been working with a client for over ten years and know them well, their preferences just become part of the booking process.
“If his preferred seating isn’t available at the time of booking his flights, we’ll call the airline and see if anything is possible. If they can’t do anything at that time, we’ll monitor the flight daily to check if any other seating comes up,” says Malin.
Leave your travel plans in the hands of an expert
There’s a lot to be said for having an expert travel manager on your side. They’re as reliable as travel can be unpredictable.
So, when you’re preparing for your next work trip, make sure you put your dedicated Travel Manager’s number into your phone. You just never know when you might need their help to get you out of a tricky travel situation.