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Monday, 19 April 2010

Volcanic disruption: how TMCs have been able to help stranded travellers

The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland has stranded anywhere between 100,000 and a million travellers overseas, and it is travel agencies who have borne much of the brunt of helping those abroad trying to get home by whatever means necessary.

Many travellers who have not booked through a travel agency have had to resort to their own ingenuity to get home – buying bicycles to take advantage of cyclist fares on ferries and paying taxi drivers thousands of pounds to get home. If the latest news from the Government is to be believed, some travellers might end up hitching a lift on HMS Ark Royal.
It is at times like these that travel management companies come into their own for getting business travellers home. Consultants who deal with travel plans day-in, day-out for business travellers, are the best placed to know all the possible alternatives when flights are grounded.

Yet just knowing the travel alternatives is not enough, a consultant needs to know where the travellers are in the first place. Conferma’s booking API, used by a number of travel management companies, is a good place to start. It allows the TMC to search for travellers by location, helping them prioritise those travellers who are in the greatest need.

Several of Conferma’s agency customers have been using the API in just this way over the past few days, helping their corporate clients’ travellers extend their stays or find an alternative place to stay or means of travel.
It doesn’t yet include booking places on HMS Ark Royal but the wide range of options have come as welcome relief to many who have been caught up in this unprecedented event.

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