Sleepless in the land of corporate travel | TravelResearchOnline

Sleepless in the land of corporate travel

When the economy went by the wayside last fall, many businesses and travel agencies took a major hit. Agencies closed or merged, everyone began scrambling to salvage what business they had. Huge travel policy cuts or lack of travel in general was a common denominator.  Unfortunately with that came the layoffs.  Many agents in other offices were in the same predicament, simply not enough work for the staff, the phones just weren’t ringing like they normally were.

I watched several friends and colleagues receive their pink slips and quietly head to the unemployment line.  Our office became a real life ghost town; I could almost imagine the tumbleweeds rolling down the aisles.  Those of us that remained were in constant fear of that dreaded call from the boss. We constantly asked the same question—“am I next?”

However, towards the end of July, we noticed a major upturn in our call volume; the phones were ringing, and travelers were travelling.  It gave us hope, and put smiles on our faces that things were looking up.  Since then, business has been much better and those of us that are still here are now doing the jobs of three people instead of just ourselves—that’s the downside.  We are all stretched to the very limit.  Is that a good thing?  Yes for the owners who are seeing profit again, but for those of us on the front lines…not so much.  Don’t misunderstand, we are all extremely thankful that we still have jobs, and that the lines are busy with work.  But when you are starting work at 6am and working until 10pm just to keep up with a day’s work, it gets exhausting.  I find myself lying in bed at night going through the previous day in my head, hoping to God I booked that limo for Mr. Jones, and that I called in the upgrade for Mr. Smith.  The check marks on my to-do list look like my 2 year old attacked it with her crayons.

Over the past few months, there have been too many frustrated tears, too much snapping at colleagues, friends, spouses, editors, and even the mailman because he’s a few minutes late. Severe lack of sleep is the norm and for some too many cocktails. All in all it is not a really good combination. But as we work our way out of this recession, it is getting better and we need to be thankful for small favors!

What about you? Is travel picking back up and getting back into the normal groove?  Do you find yourself completely overworked now that it is?  How do you handle it? Vent your frustrations to someone who can share your pain in the comments.

Lisa Rapavi is a Corporate Travel Agent for The Leaders Group based in Montvale NJ. She is a home based working from her home in PA. She has been an agent for over 18 years, working in all facets of travel, but focus’ her travel skills in the corporate travel arena. Lisa can be contacted at L.Rapavi@tlgtravel.com

  7 thoughts on “Sleepless in the land of corporate travel

  1. haya aranki says:

    travel agents have been hit very hard. President obama should discontinue the internet business that deals with travel , more agency would open and many job openings would be created. the government should interfere, in we should get our commission back from airlines, economy would be boosted, if internet business would leave this business alone the economy would be stronger, especially with the number one business which is tourism…….

  2. With the last of the commission cuts, I turned our 7 person office into a one person office. It was a miserable time. Most of the agents are still working with me, but as outside agents and are working commission only. But our office went through the same cycle … we were so slow this summer that I thought about just closing the doors. Then in late August our phones started ringing again and they haven’t stopped since. I can’t explain why, but our business is going great guns. The best part is that several of these ‘new’ clients are people who previously were booking online and have decided they now want someone with some experience to help them out. I quite often check out the online venues and have found that we almost always give the client a better price and I think there are lots of travelers who have found the same thing. So am I overworked? Yes! But I’d rather be over worked than underworked anyday. Good luck to you Lisa.

  3. lisa says:

    I wish I could say the same about our offiice. Here in the Midwest, we are still very slow. Really hoping things turn around soon.

  4. Karen Casey says:

    What a year. Working twice as hard to find the cheapest fares but it has been picking up as of late August. The internet offerings are not going away. I really don’t know how business travelers can rely on booking their flights via internet. The only airline to do this with is Southwest, they are the best and they like us. The others are unreliable and hard to work with. All they want to do is charge you a fee. Hang in there, I know your pain. Karen

  5. Here in New Orelans, we have been on a rollercoaster for the last 4 years since Katrina. The interesting thing was after Katrina, we gave money back for trips cancelled for several months and then the travel bug bit lots of people who were tired of being depressed by their surroundings. Business stayed good up
    last Christmas. I diidn’t make minium wage in Feb. and then it picked back up until this past August. When it STOPPED! Phones didn’t ring, no one came in the office and we started taking a day off a week. Thankfully, things (and people I haven’t heard from in years) have turned up this week including a client wanting a private jet tour. Guess I might survive after all!

  6. Tina Erskine says:

    As a home-based agent, I didn’t notice any downturn in my business, in fact, I more than doubled my business this year and am in a position to repeat that, and more for 2010!

    I attribute this to not just standing with my hand out and waiting for my phone to ring. What I mean by that is that I am a good marketer and networker. I work bridal shows, I send email specials and newsletters and I have a dynamic web site. All of the things that make your phone ring! There are plenty of people that are still traveling and if agents would take this opportunity to develop their business strategies and not just expect a paycheck, the agencies they work for would not have slowed down.

    My opinion is that too many agents need to just take a lesson in basic sales so they could compete with the internet. It’s not about price, its about service. Plenty of customers still want an agent to handle their business. Have the government intervene? Are you nuts? The internet is run by some very savvy business professionals and it is their right to run their business (they are providing jobs too).

    Our profession is just like any other, there will be good and bad times. The strong, who take time to educate themselves in destinations and products during the slow times will prevail because the interaction will make them not only a better agent, but a more positive one!

  7. Heather says:

    That sounds like poor managment on your owner’s part. If business is picking up why didn’t he start hiring more workers? Do you think things were not as good as you are led to believe? Agents working so many hours and wearing different hats can lead to agent error and very unhappy clients. Once our work increased we had to hire more agents even though it was a little tight and scary not knowing how stable the economy actually was. Clients first.

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