Social Media Solves Travel Dilemma

Dec 19, 2013 | Travel Planning

This article was originally published in The Office Professional newsletter and is reprinted here with permission.

Travel planner is one of the many roles of admins. Even if you enjoy coordinating all the moving parts, a perfect itinerary can quickly blow up and require instantaneous problem-solving skills. Recently, my traveling executive’s baggage blunder sent me straight to social media in search of help. Twitter and LinkedIn helped save the day. Here’s how:

The Problem

The trip I was planning for my executive was complicated. It combined a conference, a personal vacation and additional business meetings. His travels would take him to three cities over 10 days. This was the first time this executive would be traveling by train, so my favorite travel agency assisted me with the reservation.

The day my executive left, he asked me to confirm the baggage restrictions because he was going to have more luggage than the typical traveler. I checked Amtrak’s website, and there didn’t seem to be any issues, but I also asked my travel agent to verify. After a couple of phone calls, the agent learned that the train my executive was booked on didn’t allow checked baggage.

The Solutions

How was my executive going to get an oversized suitcase from city to city if he couldn’t check his bags? I pulled on my problem-solving hat and launched into action.

I sent an email to my executive telling him what I’d uncovered. He was at a conference with other experienced business travelers, and I encouraged him to ask around for a possible solution. Meanwhile, I started researching solutions.

Twitter. I sent this tweet asking for assistance: “East Coast Travel Planners: I have a client traveling btwn DC/NYC by train but it won’t allow 4 checked bags. Any ideas 4 getting bags to NYC?” Within a few minutes, I received a response: “UPS or FedEx overnight. Will have to pay package fee at hotel to pick up.” This became the first potential solution.

LinkedIn Groups. Next, I posted a discussion question in three admin groups. Within minutes, I had responses. Michelle from my IAAP group suggested contacting the hotel where my client would be staying and asking the concierge for suggestions. I did and discovered a new resource for travel planning: luggageforward.com, a service that picks up and transports your luggage. It became the second potential solution.

Google. I then searched online for other luggage shipment companies and found two: lugless.com and luggagefree.com. These were potential solutions three and four.

Armed with several options, I composed a follow-up email to my executive, detailing the possible solutions. He read it, checked the luggage shipment companies’ websites and selected one. I called and made the reservation, and our travel trauma was downgraded to a minor scrape.

I was sick to my stomach when the travel agent called about the luggage issue, but I knew there had to be a solution, so I activated my social network. My goal was to ensure my executive could continue on his journey without delay or hassle, and most important, enjoy his vacation time with his family. Mission accomplished, thanks to social media!

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