Tugging at heartstrings | TravelResearchOnline

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Tugging at heartstrings

I recall one of the first Point to Point columns we did at TRO by Mike Caplin called This is the business we have chosen. The column included a fantastic video which is always worth watching one more time.  I hadn’t thought of Mike’s column or the video until earlier this week when someone posted in the TRO Community about clients who touch our hearts and make it all worthwhile.

The initial post discussed a 30+ year relationship where a woman took each of her 13 grandchildren on a trip when they were 13. The last of the grandchildren is now 13 and Lynn is likely planning her last trip for this client. But the sparkle and the thrill of travel in this client’s eyes makes it all worthwhile.

Annie talked about a client who was in need of a heart transplant. His friends rallied around him and convinced him he was going to win this battle despite the odds. They were so sure of success that they promised a group cruise to celebrate. Sure enough, the transplant worked, the client had a new lease on life and the group sailed off into the sunset complete with t-shirts reading “Have A Heart” courtesy of Annie.

As for me, there is no doubt which client story touched my heart the most. By all rights, Suzanne and her two kids should have had the worst trip anyone could have imagined. She is a single mom who receives little parental help from the children’s father; and it is complicated as her daughter is severely autistic. Suzanne wanted to go on one of our trips to Beaches and financially it was a real stretch for her—so much that I tried to talk her out of going. But she persisted. Her ex husband refused to cooperate and allow her children to obtain passports. She had an emergency court hearing a week before departure and a trip to New York to get the Passports issued. All of a sudden, Hurricane Dean began to churn toward Jamaica and landed (of course) right in Ocho Rios—we were staying in Boscobel. They survived the storm, but during a horseback ride on the beach, the horse in front of Suzanne bucked and ended up kicking her in her ankle, breaking it, and sending her to a Jamaican hospital.

So how does this trip touch my heart? It seems that through all of this, Michelle (her daughter) was soaking up the friendliness of Jamaica and enjoying being around other children from single parent families. One night, Michelle asked to do karaoke and Suzanne freaked out. She rarely spoke, was prone to outbursts, could not read, and had never done something like this. The crowd cheered her on and Michelle stood proud and belted out the refrain from “I think I love You” from the Partridge Family. The crowd went wild and this child beamed.

As we were leaving, I ran across Suzanne in the lobby crying and stopped to see what else could have gone wrong. Her tears were of joy and not despair. It seems on the way to the shuttle for the transfer, Michelle reached out to Suzanne, grabbed her hand and said “Mommy and Michelle, BFFs forever!” While touching, it was even more profound when Suzanne told me that in Michelle’s 13 years of life, she had never shown any signs of affection or intimacy towards anyone!

I have Suzanne’s story, printed and framed in my office and each time I read it, I too well up with a tear and realize that while what we do may seem mundane or boring—but it does make a difference.

I know I am not alone. What are some of your client moments which have touched your heart? Leave a comment.

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