The travel industry: Dealt a snowy hand but survived!

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This past week has tried and tested the travel industry in a way that only one thing can… WEATHER. Something we mere mortals have zero control over yet are expected to morph in to miracle workers to solve instantly whenever the threat of travel disruptions grace the mobile phones of passengers with looming travel plans.

Having worked both on the front line dealing with passengers as cabin crew/airport ground handling staff, and, behind the scenes handling travel chaos from the end of a phone for an airline and a TMC, both Caroline and I are fully aware of the difficult week our clients and their staff will have had!  It takes a supportive management team, a heightened level of empathy and customer service, creative thinking, hard work plus nerves of steel (and more than likely a glass of wine of an evening) to get through it.  I personally will never forget a choice encounter with a passenger when I was once working on a flight leaving Prague that had been delayed for a couple of hours due to the snow filling the runway faster than the staff could clear it. Despite being sat on the tarmac in the middle of a snow blizzard, I was asked “well when are you expecting this snow to stop?”  Upon explaining that sadly, I had no idea but we would only take off if it was safe to do so, I was subjected to a barrage of  abuse from her and several other passengers over how ridiculous the whole situation was and “why on earth we couldn’t just go”.  I then had the pleasure of informing a full plane load slightly later that we were cleared for take off but all bags were being left behind due to imposed weight restrictions… you can imagine how well that went down!  A lot of the time in the travel industry we bear the brunt of people’s frustrations when their travel plans get cancelled through no fault of our own and developing a thick skin is par for the course.

As a country we’ve certainly been mocked for our reaction to the “Beast from the East”.  I watched a news report from Siberia with a resident saying it was -31 there and that was quite comfortable for them! They only really start to be cold when its -50..   Now I’m from Manchester so not adverse to freezing conditions but as a nation, the UK really isn’t geared up to deal with the kind of snow, blizzards and temperatures we’ve experienced recently and therefore, as irritating as it is for all of us, things do tend to grind to a halt.

As mothers, Caroline and I experienced nursery closures due to staff not being able to travel in from the locations they live in, regardless of the weather where the actual nursery is. Trains being cancelled meant no travel in to work for partners and friends across many different industries and work forces being depleted of staff means that we all have days we could do without. Even for us as recruiters who can work safely from the comfort of our own homes, our clients and candidates were great when interviews had to be re-arranged and start dates delayed because of people not being able to travel.  Airports being closed, motorways jammed, buses not running and hotels being full, the very heart of what the travel industry does was affected in every single way.

So to anyone who had a week they’d rather forget last week, we salute you! We imagine you’ve re-issued more tickets than you care to remember and have found new and creative ways to get your clients to their destinations.  You will have worked more hours than you’re paid to do and done it because you care.  For every irate client you’ve pacified, for every airline you’ve been on hold to and for every time you’ve turned on the news to see despairing looks from weather reporters.. you’ve done what the travel industry does best – kept calm and carried on!! 

Travel can be volatile, it relies on so many factors coming together at the right time and thankfully, on a regular basis it runs like a well oiled machine. That’s the industry we work in and lets be honest, it certainly keeps us on our toes. But think of all the new skills you’ve possibly learned this past week and how we’re sure they’ll be able to be called upon when asked in an interview, “describe a situation which was particularly difficult at work and how you handled it..”

Hopefully this week as Britain thaws out and we say goodbye to the Beast and Storm Emma, everyone in the travel industry who has worked tirelessly to try and keep people moving wherever they can, can take a bit of a breather and look forward to the altogether more predictable (but manageable) spring time rain…

If you feel now would be a good time for you to think about taking those newly sharpened skills and looking for a new role in Business Travel, please contact Caroline or I for an informal chat! We always have a great selection of different types of roles suitable for all levels of seniority and would be happy to talk to you to see what you’re looking for. or

Ps- the photo’s are actually taken of a friends house in Wales last week!!

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