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May 6, 2020

Saluting Travel Heroes Who “Save the Day”

For National Travel Advisor Day, Travel Leaders Group recognizes the efforts of travel advisors who assist travelers every day, during the best of times and in unprecedented times

New York, NY (May 6, 2020) — Imagine being a 17-year-old American exchange student in Croatia recovering from an emergency appendectomy when a global pandemic arises, and you just want to see your mom. Or perhaps you were about to leave for your destination wedding as borders were being closed. Perhaps you were celebrating your 20th wedding anniversary in Ireland as a travel ban took effect, or your employees had just landed in India when visas were recalled. As travel throughout the world shut down, travel advisors were on duty to get their clients home, while simultaneously moving first responders to pandemic hot spots, allowing them to save lives.

Today, May 6, 2020, is National Travel Advisor Day, as declared by the American Society of Travel Advisors. This year, it’s a day to recognize the silent heroes who work around the clock, seven days a week, across all international time zones, assisting clients with their travel concerns.

In the entire history of our industry there has never been a more fitting time to celebrate National Travel Advisor Day to thank travel advisors for going above and beyond caring for their clients every single day.``

– Travel Leaders Group CEO J.D. O’Hara

Nearly 65,000 travel advisors affiliated with  Travel Leaders Group, the largest travel agency organization in North America, continue during this coronavirus pandemic to serve travelers in extremely confusing, volatile, and unpredictable situations, just as they do throughout the year during hurricanes, health concerns and times of wedded bliss.

“In the entire history of our industry there has never been a more fitting time to celebrate National Travel Advisor Day to thank travel advisors for going above and beyond caring for their clients every single day,” said Travel Leaders Group J.D. O’Hara. “Travel advisors are the calm to the fears of a worried public, guiding clients all while facing extreme challenges to their own businesses as they sought assistance to keep their employees working so they can continue to be a lifeline to travelers all over the world.”

On this National Travel Advisor Day, Travel Leaders Group and its companies, including ALTOUR, Andrew Harper, Protravel International, Tzell Travel Group, Nexion Travel Group and Travel Leaders Network, salute these advisors by retelling some of the heartwarming stories of how these talented individuals “Saved the Day.”

  • Jody Bear, Tzell Travel: “Before the coronavirus travel ban went into effect, my clients were in Zurich on their way to Athens via a connection flight through Rome. They contacted me when their Rome-to-Athens flight was cancelled. Although they booked their flights using travel awards through an online booking engine, I was happy to assist them. I advised they should avoid flying through Rome because of the ban. I re-routed them through London and they were able to get back to the U.S., literally, hours before the United Kingdom ban went into effect.”
  • Kurt Crowl, Travel Leaders Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Florida. “We worked with a local university to get their students who were studying abroad back to the U.S.  With one student who was studying in Zambia, they experienced flight cancellation after cancellation through Europe. We eventually got her home to Miami via Sao Paulo. Another college student was stranded in Peru when the borders closed in March. Working through several options with charter flights, we were able to get the student back into the U.S. All of the students are now home.”
  • Hilary Chivian, Travel Leaders branch of Tzell, Norwich, CT, “I had a 17-year old client, Matt, studying abroad in Croatia with Rotary International. Matt’s parent had reached out to me on March 30 and decided it was time to bring Matt home as he just had an emergency appendectomy. Later that day, I had found him flights and reissued his ticket and he was all set. Or so we thought! On Saturday, April 4, I had received a panicked email from Matt’s dad that his flight from Zagreb had been cancelled and there was nothing else operating on that Sunday. I spent the next two hours on the phone with several airlines trying to find something else for an unaccompanied minor that would not have transfers in Amsterdam. I booked him on the only flight out that day and it was a forced overnight in Frankfurt. I was able to get him on a flight from Frankfurt to Atlanta. Finally, on the 10th of April, Matt was able to get home to his parents.
  • Tiffany Bowne, All Star Travel Group, a branch of Tzell Travel Group: “I worked with a family that was set to go to Disney World and just before their arrival, Disney World announced the closure of the park. My client is CEO of a large company out of Dallas and instead he chose to take his family on a driving trip the next morning to the Florida panhandle. I was able to find an alternate trip for them to take quickly while at the same time, I was working on the refund of their experiences and Disney package. I received many praises from my client for saving the day: ‘Oh Tiffany!!!! This place is GREAT!!!!!! The white sand beach is beautiful, perfect weather, resort is super close to the beach, the area has lots of amenities, the room is pretty and huge, and I love the washer and dryer! Thank you sooooo much for putting this together super fast!!!!’”
  • Tim Klopfenstein, Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, “During the early days of the coronavirus crisis, before the current travel restrictions, I received a call from travelers — three families (13 travelers in all) — who were not clients and they were panicked that their cruise had been cancelled while they were driving to New Orleans for the Caribbean cruise during Spring break. Within an hour, I helped them detour to Mexico. They meet me in our Coralville office since they weren’t too far away. An hour and a half later, all three families were re-booked at the Hard Rock Los Cabos hotel with flights. “Tim was able to support travelers who were previously not clients of our agency in their time of need,” said owner Duane Jasper. Jasper continued:
  • “One member of the family did not realize that a passport book and a passport card are not the same thing. Upon booking, Tim confirmed with all families and they all assured him that they had a passport valid for at least six months upon return. The individual with only a passport card was unable to check in. Tim did not waver. He connected the client to the nearest passport office in Chicago and they were able to fly out of Chicago to meet up with the other two families with only a minor inconvenience.”
  • Eric Hrubant, Tzell Travel: When the Level 4 Travel Advisory came out from the State Department, we needed to repatriate 45 clients who were traveling internationally.  Our team got them all booked on flights within two hours.  Every last one of them was back on US soil within 48 hours. In addition, we had a non-client at risk of being stranded in St. Maarten when it was announced that the SXM airport was closing. She couldn’t get her airline on the phone and there weren’t any rebooking options on their website.  Desperate, she reached out to us to see what we could do.  We got her a seat on a flight home for the next day (one of the last) and gave her peace of mind.
  • Stephen Scott, a luxury travel advisor with Protravel International, summed up reasons to book with a travel professional like this, “Our team has provided support for companies, groups, couples and families that have had to either cancel or reschedule trips into next year. The biggest benefit we have provided clients during this crucial time is that we are not only accessible and educated on their options, but because they chose to use a travel advisor they are speaking to the exact same people who planned their trip. It did not take them three hours on hold to get an answer from someone who doesn’t know them at all. Our ability to assist them through this with continued personalization and service is one of the best things we can do for our clients to make the most of the situation.”

“Your sincere passion, your dedication, and your deep love of enabling travel will be remembered. You’re the mainstay in this amazing industry and the most trusted voice on the current travel landscape,” O’Hara said in a video he circulated to travel advisors on National Travel Advisor Day. “When recovery comes, and it will come, your clients will need you more than ever to reignite their many hopes and dreams in them of exploring the world safely.”

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About Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group (www.TravelLeadersGroup.com) is transforming travel with a commitment to our vacation and business travel clients through our progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Having already assisted millions of travelers, Travel Leaders Group manages leisure, business and franchise travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands. With over 6,000 agency locations, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest travel agency companies. Travelers also have access to The Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group, a portfolio of select travel offers including discounts on international and domestic flights, value-added benefits at lodging establishments, shipboard credits on cruises and savings on escorted and vacation packages. Membership to The Travel Collection is offered at no additional cost to U.S. American Express Gold Card, Business Gold Rewards Card, Platinum Card® and Business Platinum Card® Members. For more information visit www.TheTravelCollection.com.

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