Whether you’re facing cancelled flights, forgotten passports, or a global pandemic, who do you turn to when things go wrong? No matter how amazing technology can be and how advanced it gets, it will never be the same as having a real person to speak to. Granted, there are occasions when you don’t need to speak to anyone or you’d rather rely on technology to do it yourself, but when facing a genuine crisis, no amount of tech or can-do attitude can suffice.
At Flight Centre Business Travel, we’ve always known how important our amazing teams of Travel Managers and the added layer of support from our 24 hour emergency assistance team are to our customers. One thing we’ve noticed is that during times of emergency or crisis, the amount our travellers reach out to our Travel Experts or Emergency assist team significantly increases.
So we’ve decided to put a spotlight on our crisis heroes – our emergency assistance team – and how essential they were in getting our clients home safely during the coronavirus outbreak.
What Our Numbers Show
The beginning of the global pandemic: although travel in China and across Asia had started grinding to a halt, the impact across Europe and subsequently globally wasn’t felt until March. As each day passed there were more updates, cancellations and changes. With borders closing and travellers around the world attempting to get home quickly, our experts were in overdrive to help get customers home.
What Our Numbers Don’t Show
“I made a point of going beyond my duties to help my clients as much as I could, even if they didn’t book through me. I was able to get one client’s daughter (who is new to travel) home just a few hours before the borders closed. They were extremely grateful and said that this type of service is why their company books through an agent for their business travel.” ~ David Collins
These figures just show our out-of-hours teams only, so don’t include the support our Travel Experts give to their customers on a daily basis. Many of our experts go over and above their working hours to ensure their customers are always looked after.
“Throughout this turbulent time, I have been here to assist my clients, whether it be cancellations, rescheduling or just to answer questions and put their minds at ease.
During the month of March, I cancelled and changed over 75 booked flights, which meant sitting on hold with airlines for hours. Some days I spent my entire workday and then some on hold on behalf of clients. I believe my longest hold time was just over 9 hours.
My clients have so many other important things to worry about in this unstable time, I just wanted them to trust that when they email or call me to ask for assistance, they no longer have to worry about it.” ~ Jody Benson
What Does This All Mean?
If this year has shown us anything, it’s the value of people in a crisis. Needing advice from a real person who has expert industry knowledge and can help reschedule, cancel or reroute your travel plans is invaluable. We’ve seen more of our customers lean on our emergency assistance in times of need. Whether that’s from an individual level (“I’ve missed my flight”) to a collective issue, (“The country is cancelling all flights”) we know that sometimes you just need someone on hand to help you out.
When looking at numbers like these you can really see why a TMC (Travel Management Company) is seen as an extension of most businesses. Without the support of a dedicated Travel Manager and the backing of an out-of-hours team, you lose that personal connection and the real thought that is needed behind helping a traveller in a challenging situation.
On top of that, the truly great TMCs are the ones that offer the best well-rounded approach. Having the ability to use technology or AI when needed, balanced with real people accessible at all times is what really matters to travellers and those looking after travellers.