Getting energy, resources and marine travelers to work on the seas requires doing lots of things right—and all in sequence. It’s like putting together a complicated puzzle, as BCD Travel’s Ron Oomens explained to Dutch transport magazine Flows.
Oomens, who leads BCD agent teams serving ERM travelers, has been in the industry for almost 20 years and knows how to make all the pieces fit.
Quick solutions at all hours
“We guide seafarers from A to Z, with bookings for airplanes, hotels and rental cars or ferries and taxis. We consult with each customer’s crew planners about what’s needed. For example, some clients need more hotels than others. The choice of comfort or business class is also different for each company,” Oomens said.
Crews must move on and off ships as efficiently as possible, and sometimes those transitions happen at the last minute and at odd hours. Oomens’ team expects the unexpected. “It’s not a nine-to-five job; you have to be flexible and a bit creative,” he said.
If there is a delay or a flight is being canceled, BCD agents must come up with a quick solution. “Once we had to disembark a crew that was already on the plane at the airport. Their replacements hadn’t shown up, so they couldn’t go home yet.”
The multi-national nature of the crews also adds complexity. People working on the same vessel may be traveling under many different documents and visas. Some seafarers may be restricted from traveling through certain countries, particularly the U.S. Then it’s up to Oomens and his team to find a solution.
“It’s important that the crew members are able to transfer on their routes, and that they have enough time to check in or go through customs when transferring. You have to take all that into account when you work out a route,” he explained.
Expanding seafarer travel expertise
To further enhance BCD’s seafarer expertise and services, the travel management company recently announced a joint venture with maritime solutions leader Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM). The partnership creates a highly responsive global marine travel services offering that supports the expansion of BCD’s global ERM practice.
Oomens said the challenges of coordinating mission-critical travel for seafarers makes his job exciting. “Once I arranged a charter flight for an entire crew in two hours and got it airborne,” he recalled. “When something like that succeeds, it’s wonderful.”
Learn more about BCD Travel’s marine travel services expansion.