Cape Town - Gone are the days where you strolled into a travel agency and asked your travel agent to book you a flight.
The travel agent of today is far more than a simple booking agent, explains Otto de Vries, CEO of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents.
Travel agents have evolved to compete with the Internet, transforming themselves into professionals and experts who are there to ensure your travel is not only painless, but pleasant, and that you're travelling with peace of mind.
Strikes, missed connections and lost documents - all manner of unexpected eventualities can happen when you're road-tripping across the world. Take a load off and call your travel agent who'll come to your rescue when you most need it.
We spoke to a few South African travel agents who have 'saved the day' when their travellers have been in a bind.
One call away
While covering for a colleague who was on leave, Lyndall Peters of Club Travel had to jump in to save the day when one of their clients ended up stuck at an airport in India. “I received a call from a client who was stranded in India as they were British Passport holders and needed visas to enter India. I contacted the Indian Consulate and after several calls, begging and pleading, the visa was issued and they could carry on with their holiday. They came back after their memorable trip and personally came in to thank me”.
Last-minute mix up
“I got a call very early one morning from a client who was sitting at OR Tambo,”Sure Travel's Tarryn Classens begins. “He had checked in and was sitting at his boarding gate having some coffee, waiting for his flight to board, when he suddenly checked his boarding pass. He was meant to be flying to Durban, but his boarding pass said he was flying to Port Elizabeth!”
Tarryn realised that the client and his assistant must have had a misunderstanding, but the error had not picked up until that moment.
“I quickly proceeded to call the airline who had to offload him from the Port Elizabeth flight. Whilst he was going back through security I was sourcing the next available flight to Durban, so that by the time he was back at the check-in counters he could go straight onto his flight and still get to the correct destination in time for his meeting. I succeeded! We had a happy client who had minimal disruption to his day and he was able to continue business as usual.”
Going the extra mile
Club Travel's Charlotte Hlongwane was helping a client who was relocating to Durban. “She sent a travel request looking for accommodation for a month,”, Hlongwane explained. Setting up a temporary home for such a long time is no easy task and, despite Charlotte's efficiency, her client was not easy to please.
“I booked her a hotel, but she already wanted to check out the next day. So, I booked her another hotel, but again she checked out after the first night.” After a third failed attempt, Charlotte reassessed the situation and put herself in her client's shoes: “She wanted a hotel where she could feel at home since she would be staying for the whole month.” Fourth time turned out to be the charm, and after all the back and forth the client was very happy, “she even extended her stay and was grateful for all the help we provided.”
Adapted from a press release for IOL