Using a travel agent can deliver all sorts of vital benefits that you won’t get through booking online – and sometimes it takes slipping on the cobblestones outside the Louvre to prove it.
That’s what happened to Penny Sherrin, a solo traveller from Australia who ended up in the Cochin Orthopaedic Hospital in Paris just three days into her 24-day European holiday.
Sherrin hadn’t booked online. She booked through her personal travel manager Michelle Kingston, and that’s who she turned to for help.
Sherrin said later: “In the emergency department waiting to be X-rayed, I phoned Michelle to let her know I was in hospital and what had happened. Michelle spoke to the Orthopedic Resident on my behalf who advised I had a fractured shoulder that required surgery.”
TravelManagers’ client Penny Sherrin all smiles as personal travel manager Jeanette Dickson hand delivers the forgotten phone charger from the hotel
Feeling alone and frightened, with the additional complication of having to cope with the language barrier, Sherrin was extremely grateful for Kingston’s support and efficiency. Working late into the night, Kingston communicated with the doctors and insurance company. Vitally, she kept family members back in Australia informed.
“I hadn’t realised, but I had called Michelle at 6.30pm on Sunday night. Michelle certainly doesn’t just work traditional business hours,” Sherrin said later.
“She acted quickly and efficiently to help me by contacting Allianz Global Assistance Insurance and arranged for all of my treatment, hospital account as well as medical evacuation back to Australia. Michelle even contacted my daughter and phoned the hotel and arranged for my luggage to be delivered to the hospital. Michelle went above and beyond to help me. This type of personal service is invaluable.”
Kingston, representative for Pacific Pines in Queensland, certainly delivers on the TravelManagers’ philosophy of providing personal and consistent client service.
“I love the flexibility of being a home-based consultant where I am available for my clients when it suits them, rather than the normal business hours like a traditional travel agency,” Kingston said.
TravelManagers’ client Penny Sherrin enjoys a visit for personal travel manager Jeanette Dickson at the Cochin Orthopaedic Hospital in Paris
“I enjoy running my own business giving me the ability to go the extra mile, which in turn offers my clients exceptional customer service. For Penny to call me first after she fell, made me feel grateful that she trusted me that much to ask for assistance and that I could help as much as I could from long distance. The fact I could help Penny late at night shows how working from home really works for clients.”
Sherrin quickly discovered that her phone charger had not been delivered with her luggage, so it was Kingston who again came to the rescue.
Attributing TravelManagers’ technology as key to her success in servicing her clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Kingston used the TravelManagers PTM forum to reach out to fellow personal travel managers for help.
“I asked if anyone was in Paris or was going and could possibly go to the hotel and take Penny her phone charger so that she could keep in contact with her family. I was blown away by the comments of support I received on the post and thankfully my colleague Jeannette Dickson was flying out to Paris the following morning and was happy to assist.”
It was opportune timing for personal travel manager Jeanette Dickson, representative from Arundel also from Queensland, flying to Paris the following morning and staying only one night on route to join a TravelManagers Uniworld famil.
“We arrived in Paris late in the day and meet most of the famil participants at a casual dinner. It was after the dinner that I set out to walk to the hospital. I had just met personal travel manager Rosemary Kates from Wollongong, NSW and she insisted she come with me. It was such a lovely gesture and it ended up being quite an adventure so I was very grateful to have the company,” Dickson said.
The walk to the hospital with the phone charger proved challenging for Dickson and Kates.
“It was rather difficult as the hospital is located in historic buildings spread over many blocks with no one main entrance. It was trial and error entering many buildings, the majority of people didn’t speak English and security was very high due to the recent terror attacks.
“It wasn’t quite the simple task I thought it was going to be, taking many hours and we didn’t get back to our hotel until very, very late. Having flown in from Australia that morning it was an extremely long day. However the smile on Penny’s face when she saw us made it all worthwhile.”
For Sherrin, this experience has just reiterated the value of having her own personal travel manager.
“There was another Australian lady in hospital who also fell at the Louvre but she booked her trip herself over the internet and her husband spent a couple of days sorting out her insurance and plans, they had no assistance.
“She was shocked at how much my personal travel manager helped me with my arrangements and even more shocked when two personal travel managers turned up with my phone recharger.
“Michelle, Jeanette and Rosemary are wonderful examples of the calibre of TravelManagers. I was overwhelmed by the co-operation and support of all the personal travel managers who went out of their way to help me at a time I really needed it.”
TravelManagers’ executive general manager Michael Gazal said Kingston’s initiative epitomised TravelManagers’ belief in turning every single transaction into a long-term client relationship.
“Michelle’s ability to engage with her clients with such a personal approach is a real inspiration to all personal travel managers. By viewing each opportunity as a client for life, its experiences like these that prove the personal concept really works,” Gazal said.
The action of Kingston, Dickson and Kates provided an authentic example of TravelManagers family-based values Gazal added.
“The TravelManagers’ philosophy of personal travel managers working collectively together to support each other and foster community spirit to deliver the ultimate in client service is clearly evident.”
For Kingston, it was just another day.
“Another happy client experience, all in a day’s work!”
Edited by Peter Needham