NBTA Responds To Volcano Travel Crisis

Posted on April 20, 2010 by LCT Magazine

CUSTOMERS FIRST: A recent letter from the president of the National Business Travel Association underscores the importance of helping out clients/customers during a crisis. Many travel-related business are forgoing the price-gouging that occurs in desperate situations. Caring for your customers during times of distress is a sure way for operators to secure lasting loyalty that can pay off for years to come.

Dear NBTA Supporters,
As volcanic ash has forced closures of significant portions of European airspace since April 15, I have witnessed first hand the power of the business travel community. I’ve also heard from many of you over the past few days, sharing ideas and resources as we navigate this international industry crisis:
  • Travel managers have ensured every affected traveler was quickly identified and provided with regular updates, using people-tracking systems and working with TMCs.
  • Working with hotel partners, and rail carriers where possible, companies have changed bookings to make sure business travelers were accommodated in extremely challenging circumstances.
  • As air space begins opening again, partnerships with airlines will be invaluable in getting travelers where they need to go as quickly as possible.
It's the value of the managed travel community in action! And I've watched it all from an interesting vantage point: I'm a travel manager, I work for a global hospitality company, I am the elected president of the world's largest business travel association, and I myself have been stranded overseas a result of the closures. On the whole, I am proud of how our industry has managed through another crisis.
Of course, with any crisis come those who will attempt to take advantage. From many of you I’ve heard that some hotels, airports and ground transportation firms are doing just that by gouging prices at a time when travelers have no options. I would like to recognize and thank those travel partners that are NOT taking advantage of the situation. We are all in this together as an industry, and cooperation and partnership is key to keeping our heads above water until we’re in the clear.
The Future
Perhaps a more important measure of our effectiveness will be what we do as the immediate spotlight fades. The grounding of so many flights has hurt the economy in ways that have yet to be understood, and the pain will last for months as the benefits of countless postponed meetings and sales calls are delayed.
As the dust settles — literally — work will commence to create systemic and infrastructure changes that should better prepare the industry and governments to address similar challenges in the future. With more than 5,000 business travel professional members — representing both buyers and suppliers, and with heavy concentrations in the United States and Europe — NBTA is uniquely positioned to represent you as governments and the industry work to address the challenges that this situation is bringing to light.
What Can You Do?
  • Share your success stories. Tell us what your company has done to manage through the volcanic ash crisis.
  • Identify the challenges. You've seen the real challenges, the stories the media haven't told. Let us know what they are, so we can work to improve our industry systems and infrastructure to ameliorate those challenges in the future.
  • Share publicly on the NBTA LinkedIn group (www.nbta.org/linkedin) or privately email pr@nbta.org. (As always, information shared privately will only be used anonymously unless you provide permission to do otherwise.)
  • Stay connected. Use your connections through NBTA to learn how other companies are handling the challenges. Stay up to date with the NBTA Daily News Brief, where we will continue to distribute breaking news. Direct members can see in real time how firms are helping their stranded travelers via the NBTA Direct Member List Serve (www.nbta.org/directlistserv). 
Craig Banikowski, CCTE, C.P.M., CMM
NBTA President & CEO


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