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After Irene: Travel Impressions Reports on Emergency ServicesAugust 31, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
Travel Impressions’ T.R.E.A.T. (Travel Response Emergency Activation Team) is a standing team that responds to emergency situations affecting its travelers – weather-related or otherwise, Travel Impressions reports.
"In the case of Hurricane Irene, the T.R.E.A.T. team worked effortlessly with travel agents, hotels, resorts, airlines and ground operators in East Coast and Caribbean destinations to minimize the impact on travel plans for Travel Impressions and American Express Vacations clients," said Travel Impressions.
Travel Impressions has convened a hurricane and emergency response team for years, but changed the name to T.R.E.A.T. in 2005 to cover any and all emergency situations, the company says.
"The T.R.E.A.T. team includes representatives from key departments across the company who play a direct role in making sure customers are handled safely and efficiently from departure through return. The acronym evolved from the company’s dedication to 'treating' its customers with the highest possible level of care," Travel Impressions reported.
“Our first priority is the safety and security of our customers, so our T.R.E.A.T. team undertakes a massive effort to ensure our travelers are well-served during difficult situations,” said Steve Gorga, president and CEO of Travel Impressions.
Travel Impressions has developed guidelines for how the T.R.E.A.T team responds. At the first sign of an approaching emergency situation, the team meets at least twice daily to mobilize employees across the country who coordinate contacts with travel agents and their passengers, as well as with travel suppliers, including hotels, resorts, airlines and ground operators.
Travel Impressions says its team determines when to activate emergency phone numbers in addition to its 24/7 Customer Care hotline, bring on additional call center staffing in the company’s New York, Pennsylvania and California locations, post travel advisories and information on its websites, and take any other actions necessary to serve customers. Each time the team reconvenes, status reports are shared and immediate actions planned. The team serves as the nerve center of the company during an emergency situation.
With Hurricane Irene, the T.R.E.A.T. team went into action once it appeared the weather system would affect Caribbean travelers as well as East Coast travel.
“Hurricane Irene not only had an impact on customers traveling throughout the East Coast and the Caribbean, but also on customers in our worldwide destinations who were trying to fly in or out of East Coast airports closed by this powerful storm,” Gorga said. “We have poured extensive manpower hours into rearranging our clients’ travel plans. Our goal is to ensure that everyone arrives home safely from affected destinations and to offer alternate options to our clients whose vacations were disrupted by Hurricane Irene.”
Travel Impressions’ emergency team has faced many travel situations, including California wildfires, volcanic ash clouds over Europe, tornadoes in the southern U.S., the U.S. east coast blackout several years ago, the recent earthquakes in New Zealand, and the Japanese tsunami effects on Tahiti, Hawaii and the west coast of the United States.
Travel Impressions even assisted travelers during the New Orleans flooding although it wasn’t selling the destination at that time.
During Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Travel Impressions came to the aid of travelers stranded in Cancún, Riviera Maya and Cozumel, Mexico by chartering a Mexicana plane to fly customers out of Mexico back to the United States.
Travel Impressions also offers 24/7 Customer Care Service through its trained Customer Care Group to provide travel agents with assistance and solutions to any problems facing their clients. After hours, travel agents can call the Customer Care hotline -- 1-800-284-0022-- to speak with trained Customer Care representatives who will assist them with any issues that arise during a client’s trip.
In addition, there is a 24/7 international phone number in Travel Impressions’ document booklets enabling customers to contact the company toll free from their destinations for assistance if they are unable to reach their travel agents after hours. The company also provides web access to its Customer Care Group via www.travelimpressions.com that allows travel agents to submit post-travel communications to Travel Impressions on behalf of their clients.