When we last left off, I was planning to write about my planned trip/study tour to Iceland. I ended up turning down the trip. It was not because of the volcano, an amazing experience to have had, to say the least; it was not because of economics, although, I believe, it could be partly due to that; and it was not the cost. It came down to balancing out the need to continue to stay in touch with my clients, and my need to return to a place where I have enjoyed many travel experiences. My decision was driven by my desire to ensure that my clients were well taken care of during this latest time of uncertainty, with the volcanic activity, and the unrest in Greece (both places where I have clients traveling), could be affected by the events–past, present and future, and I needed to be here for them.
My decision was prompted when a client called and was concerned about the Barcelona airport being closed today because of the ash clouds and their return trip home. If I had been away, I may have not been there to help. Certainly, the technology today makes it easier to take the office with you—thank God for the Blackberry and iPhone, so I do not have to feel that I can’t travel, which I will certainly do. But sometimes, it just makes more sense to be there. I have a client that is to depart for France and then on to Greece in less than two weeks and she is concerned about what to do. I have a number of clients leaving for various other places in Europe from all of the country in the next couple of weeks and then there is a honeymoon couple that is interested in going to Thailand next year for their honeymoon. Yes, I know that this is a totally different part of the world, but warnings have been put out. I am certainly disappointed in not being able to travel right now, but with all the craziness going on, both manmade and natural; I feel it is more important to be there for the client and being able to take on additional business. I view it as a positive for my business and certainly a positive for my clients.
This experience has shored up the importance of the travel professional in my clients’ minds. We are more important than ever because of the services we provide to our clients–from the quick trip to Las Vegas to the extensive trip overseas. An online website can’t help the traveler when issues arise and need help. As travel professionals, we must be there for our before, during and after their travels. Problems do not just pop up when a connection is missed. It would be nice to say that we could predict or control any issue that may arise, but that’s not realistic; but a true professional will be there for the client. The client needs assurance that the person they selected to handle their travel investment is working with reputable service providers and will address their concerns. They want to know that the services provided are those best suited to that individual client, not a cookie cutter approach. In order to stay in business these days, one has to be able to offer the diverse options to match the diverse experiences that a client demands. We have to continually find balances in this business as with all aspects of life. I think about that all the time. I still continue to be optimistic of the travel industry and our place in it. The events that have occurred, have not deterred me away from it, but strengthened my resolve to keep going. The Wandering Puffin is going to continue to fly!
Jamison Bachrach is better known as the Wandering Puffin for the way he likes to travel. Jamison has been in the travel industry for almost 14 years and has been home based for a little more than 2 years and specializes in independent European travel planning, specifically, central and eastern Europe, as well as Scandinavia.
Jamison has traveled to over 35 countries, including most of Europe. Wandering Puffin LLC. Is located in Plymouth, MN. Jamison can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 763-244-0669. www.wanderingpuffin.com.