There’s no denying that 2017 was filled with an extraordinary number of travel disruptions and crises. The snowstorms, hurricanes, fires, floods, terrorist attacks and earthquakes never seemed to end. But when BCD Travel stepped back to assess the year that was, the travel management company found something positive. Its strategic, flexible approach to managing crises works well in worst-case scenarios, easing the pain of disruption for business travelers and their companies.
A couple of data points say it all. In 2016, BCD’s North American crisis response team—agents called up during major disruptions—went into action 36 times. In 2017, that same team was called up a whopping 103 times. That’s a 186% increase in demand for these ready-to-respond agents.
What’s more, despite the increase in volume, response-time metrics improved, said Bernd Rittinger, BCD’s vice president of Strategic Operations in the U.S.
“It used to take several days to recover from the residual effects of crisis-related volume. Now we regain normal levels in a matter of hours,” Rittinger said. BCD has made such strides, he said, by thinking through and simplifying its processes, including some commonsense approaches:
- When there’s a travel disruption alert at level orange or red, the TMC reschedules any planned information technology or telephone upgrades that might slow agents down.
- BCD staffs up before a storm hits; that’s when agents are busiest helping travelers change flights and rebook hotels.
- The TMC doesn’t assign crisis response to specific client teams. That means everyone jumps into the response pool.
- The Operations team has regularly scheduled check-ins with Supplier Relations, Crisis Management, Account Management and Information Technology. Those conversations increase before, during and after a crisis.
How will 2017’s successful responses shape strategies for the approaching 2018 hurricane season? “We’re really proud of how our agents helped travelers get to their destinations safely last year. We’re taking what worked best and replicating it,” Rittinger said. “We know to expect the unexpected and how to prepare for it, and that’s extremely valuable.”