One of the nifty things about writing for Travel Agent Diaries is that we are tasked with documenting what is happening on the home front, so to speak. The past few weeks have been a challenge, and
I find my personal and professional life merging into the same lane, with traffic rapidly approaching.
The week before last, my 80 year old father called me at the office, and told me he had to have a minor heart procedure. He needed me to drive him to the hospital and wait to take him home. I made plans to be out of the office with him on surgery day, and just be gone for a single day.
The doctor’s schedule got further and further behind as the day wore on, and the 1pm procedure got pushed back, for one hour, then two; and then finally after nearly four hours, Dad was taken back. The doctor comes out, says everything went fine, he’ll be in recovery a few hours, and by the way, he is not allowed to drive for 72 hours. Huh?! By the time we are allowed to leave, it’s 9pm and my office still thinks I’ll be there tomorrow.
My Dad lives 30 miles away from me, and the office. I’m the only family member in the area, so I’m his only support system, and I only planned to be out for one day. I’m am so lucky to have three amazing co-workers who can shoulder all of my responsibilities, when I have to be gone at a moment’s notice with my Dad. (This is the third time this year) The agency owner will let me work from home, in this situation, and will let me make up hours. But what if I was a home based agent, and didn’t have an office, with three other people to handle my calls and clients?
Late that night when we get home from the hospital, Dad drops a bomb on me and tells me he has a couple of doctor appointments on Friday, and I’ll need to take him. Now I need to regroup, and be out of the office for the rest of the week. Work schedules are out the window.
I kept thinking to myself, what would I do if I didn’t have anyone to back me up? Many in our industry today, are solo agents working from home. How could they have spent three days out of the office, and still successfully serviced their clients? Do their host agencies handle their client calls? Our agency has always been available to our IC’s clients, whenever they need help. When traveling for business or pleasure, the IC puts an out of office reply on their email that directs them to our office for immediate attention. We don’t charge the IC’s for this service. I believe it is part of being a good host. Our IC’s have also come into the office and worked when we needed extra hands during short-staffed weeks. We pay them an hourly wage for that, and I think it’s equitable for all of us.
Do you have an emergency plan in place to take care of your clients in the event you have to be away from your office unexpectedly? What if you had a natural disaster and your office/home is no longer habitable. Do you have a travel agent colleague that you can partner with to field each other’s calls when one of you is away?
Tracee Williams is a 32 year veteran of the travel industry. She has extensive experience with both corporate and leisure travel agencies in Northwest Arkansas. She specializes in Honeymoons, and Luxury Travel. She is a CTA, ACC, Platinum CSS, and a Sandals Weddingmoon Specialist. She is currently studying to get her CTC. She lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with her husband Darrell, and their fur babies, Callie, Annie, and Peanut.