Lavon Brown (his given name is David, but he goes by his middle name Lavon), a senior travel counselor for San Antonio, TX-based Navigant Sato Travel, is not your typical agent. He worked at Travelocity before leaving for college, and has served in the reserves of the U.S. Army and Army National Guard since 1994. After graduating from Texas Lutheran University, he started working for Navigant Sato Travel in 2004.
Brown provides 24-hour customer service to military and government personnel for leisure travel—and in emergency situations. He coordinates flights, car rentals, train itineraries and hotel accommodations for soldiers, and he's received numerous outstanding customer service awards.
"I'm working under the International Service Center
(ISC) of Sato Travel," Brown says. "I work with soldiers in
It may not be a typical niche of the travel industry, but it's a rewarding one. "It's very challenging," Brown says. "We're a 24-hour operation. You have emergencies happening all over the world...one of our challenges is the time differences." Another major challenge is the government's budget restraints. "We have to keep it under a government-imposed per diem." Lavon Brown
Sato's ISC has about 20 agents in the call center, plus
tele-commuters handling calls from home. "Government travelers who are on
orders will call us and say, 'The office in
His company books travel worldwide, and he's traveled all
over the States, including
He's also used to dealing with people calling under duress. "I enjoy helping people when they get caught in emergencies, when I know that we're their last resort," Brown says. "It's a good feeling knowing that you're doing everything you can to make sure the troops are taken care of."
He recalls speaking with a soldier stationed at the time in
"All of the agents here receive calls that require immediate assistance," Brown says.
"Sometimes they are very emotional situations and I believe that most of the agents here feel as though they have an added responsibility to assist the travelers in any way possible considering that they are in a war zone and have the added pressures of dealing with life away from their families."
That's a pretty heady level of responsibility, which Brown embraces as a rewarding part of his job.