Guest post by George Kalka, Fox’s Vice President of Global Client Solutions
Travel disruptions are inevitable. Consider that last year alone there were more than 100 major events (hurricanes, tropical storms, active volcanoes, earthquakes and named winter storms) that impacted travel. According to FlightGlobal, 3.6 million flights were canceled or delayed greater than 30 minutes in 2017. That’s nearly one of every 10 flights globally.
Why is disruption management so important?
Think about the impact of a 60-minute delay on the first segment of a connecting flight – it’s a frustrating travel day in the making. Helping travelers to avoid these situations is a big deal. While disruption can’t be eliminated, the corporate travel industry can do more to proactively avoid it.
Listen to business travelers. Trip disruption is a top concern, and understandably so. Among the nearly 1,000 business travelers who participated in BTN’s Traveler Happiness Index survey, the importance of access to travel disruption support was demonstrated by ranking in the top five of more than 20 trip factors. Disruption support was ranked higher than access to effective booking tools, choice and quality of suppliers, and tools/memberships that allow travelers to skip lines.
At Fox World Travel, through the analyzation our own Net Promoter Score feedback, we too identified disruption management as a gap that could be proactively addressed. Travelers were seeking help and the industry needed better solutions.
How can the industry empower travelers in times of disruption?
The airline industry is operating at historically high load factors. In times of disruption, there are simply fewer empty seats to re-accommodate travelers, which means even small disruptions often have severe impacts. Airlines are recognizing this problem too and are becoming more proactive in issuing waivers, often days in advance of anticipated delays or cancellations. FlightGlobal measured a 63% increase in airline waivers issued from 2016 to 2017. Putting this important waiver information in the hands of the traveler so they are the first to know about waiver availability could be the difference between taking the trip without experiencing any delay or ending up on the only available alternate flight possibly days later.
Our proprietary Fox Waivers 3i technology proactively addresses this need. This industry-leading waiver service identifies all reservations that qualify for a no-cost exchange and alerts travelers the moment an airline waiver is issued. Additionally, alternate options for connecting flights to avoid impacted airports are sent to the traveler. Fox Waivers 3i is empowering travelers to take action and avoid disruption before it occurs.
Corporate travel policies can empower travelers too. Proactive organizations are allowing for last-minute one-way tickets without approval when travelers are facing disruption. Even if a waiver is never issued, these forward-thinking companies are getting their travelers out of impacted airports or avoiding them all together. According to the Achieving Better Business Travel Results – Insights from U.S. Road Warriors study, the most important flight factor related to the overall success of a business trip was “no cancellations or significant delays.” It pays for corporations to address disruption and help their travelers achieve higher overall trip success and satisfaction.
Disruption is inevitable. But, as an industry, we can and must continue to look for ways to minimize disruption’s impact on travelers. Assisting even one traveler to avoid a flight delay or cancellation is a move in the right direction, and at Fox World Travel we’re proud to be leading the journey in helping travelers proactively avoid disruption.
George Kalka is Vice President of Global Client Solutions. Kalka has over 15 years’ experience in the hospitality and travel industry serving in regional, national, and executive roles. He is a highly-respected leader and his accomplishments in client management, strategic planning, business development and associate engagement have supported Fox through significant growth in recent years. In his current role, Kalka leads Fox’s client strategy, program solutions and travel management consultation. He is responsible for the organic development and retention of the company’s domestic and multinational business travel customers.