Archive for the ‘Travel issues in the news’ Category

In a Crisis, We are There for You

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

When we book a vacation tour for our clients, we know that anything could happen to interrupt the best laid plans – volcano eruptions, airline strikes, hurricanes – but a revolution? We don’t usually consider that possibility. If you have been anywhere near a television, radio, or computer these past two weeks, you know that not only is a violent protest in progress in Egypt, but that many Americans are stranded there.

Two of our longtime clients spent more than two years planning a trip of a lifetime with Compass Travel agent Wendy Sisto, who had been to Egypt and who shared her enthusiasm for this ancient and historic region with them. Our clients left Logan Airport on Wednesday, January 26th and arrived on the following day. No one knew that trouble had already been brewing in the land of the Sphinx.

Midway through their first full day in Cairo, our travelers were told by their tour guide that he needed to leave them to join protesters in the city square. Almost immediately, things turned into something “out of a James Bond movie,” as one of the ladies described to us. Egypt is 7 hours ahead of us, so early Friday morning here in New Hampshire, late afternoon in Cairo, Wendy received her first call from them; they didn’t much care for political uprisings and wanted to go home.

Wendy immediately set the wheels in motion to do just that. She worked throughout the day and well into the wee hours of Saturday morning, in coordination with our tour operator, STI Travel-Sakkara International, both with their reps here in the United States and their tour professionals in Egypt, to get those two ladies on a plane back to the U.S. Remember, the Egyptian government had shut down all Internet access and cell phone service in the country; the situation was chaotic, to say the least.

When Wendy finally went to bed that Friday night, our clients were scheduled to board their flight home. At 7:30 am Saturday morning (EST), Wendy knew the plane was on its way to New York, but she did not know if they were on it. Finally, at noon, our tour agent called to confirm that they were indeed on that flight, and would land at Kennedy Airport that evening. Wendy went to work to arrange a flight back to Boston, but there were no seats available. She called the family of one of the travelers and they hatched a plan. At 7:30 pm, while monitoring the arrivals into Kennedy from her computer, Wendy received a call from those weary travelers asking if they had a connecting flight home. She was happy to tell them her surprise—family members were there to greet them. Wendy had also offered to drive the six hours to pick them up.

That’s how our agents work. I commend Wendy for her tireless efforts to get those two wonderful women home from a very frightening, often uncertain turn of events. No one can predict these things. But, we can assure our clients that once they buy their tickets from us, we are with them all the way! Thank you, Wendy for a job well done.

From Holly’s Desk…

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The volcano isn’t the only eruption

Two ladies stranded in Brussels, a businessman bogged down in London on a four-leg trip through Europe, 12 high school students grounded in Paris, our escorted Ireland trip on hold—it’s been a hectic week here at Compass Travel. The volcano crisis highlights what we’ve been saying for years: if you travel with us, you can breathe easier when things go wrong. And, they do go wrong. Not all the time, not to this extent, but why take the chance?

This morning, a woman stopped in to our office and tearfully explained her plight. She had been visiting her parents in New London, but needed to get back home to Germany. Unfortunately, she had booked her overseas flight online and was getting no response from the website. Unanswered calls to the airline left her frustrated and angry. Could we please help, she asked.

Professional and efficient, Wendy took up the cause; she immediately contacted Lufthansa and was able to book a new flight for this woman. “I guarantee, once you start working with us,” I overheard Wendy say, “you will never do it on your own again.”

Late last Sunday night, I came into the office to rebook a dozen stranded students who were scheduled to fly home from Paris today. I knew the backlog of flights would probably cause a cancellation for them even if the ash clouds started to diminish; once flights resumed, the airports in Europe would experience the biggest bottleneck in history. The kids will be back home by Sunday, much to the relief of their parents.

It takes a crisis of this magnitude to really highlight the deficiencies in the online travel industry. Our experienced agents were able to rebook flights, arrange lodging for weary travelers around the world, monitor changing conditions hourly, offer options and empathy, and bring some order to the chaos caused by that pesky volcano. Let me know if your computer could help you do all that.

From some of our happy travelers:

“Wendy, thank you for the call today and the offer to help me over the weekend. I was very impressed with the support you offered me; it’s a clear reminder of why I count on Compass Travel for my planning.” A businessman trying to get to Zurich

“We appreciate all you and your staff have done for us. It’s a lot easier to deal with life’s little bumps in the road when we have great people back in the States doing all they can to help from a distance.” A mother and daughter on vacation in Brussels