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A Brave New World For Travelers
An excerpt from the Sep 12, 2006 edition of Travel Weekly
Gloria Bohan is president, CEO and founder of Omega World Travel.
I was in Ireland on 9/11, playing golf at the Tralee Golf Club with a group of golfers. It was a beautiful, sunny day. I came back to the U.S. several days later, not knowing quite what to expect.
It is a brave new world for travelers now. After the attacks, with the airlines having so much trouble, we saw so much need from customers asking for help. It was as if we had changed from a travel management company negotiating air fares to something more. It became "What are you doing to help protect us because we have to travel?"
On the security side, just keeping people advised on new security regulations has forced all agents to communicate better and in different ways. We're more a part of that Blackberry culture now, and we are acting more like consultants, offering help instead of just acting as a travel manager. A whole different realm of issues has emerged over these past five years.
Sept. 11 occurred as we were seeing significant growth of the online travel agencies, with the purchase of airline tickets becoming commoditized. But with the need for customers to make changes because of airport delays or being shut down over security incidents, even the online agencies saw that they could not be just an online portal, and they morphed into something more like full-service agencies. Even customers going online see the need for more services, and I think that is one post-9/11 development that will continue.
We still see crowded planes and security problems, and whether it is a terrorist plot in London or a hurricane in the Caribbean, we know we have customers who want more help. People are feeling a need for the personal touch to help them wade through the inconveniences travel presents. International travel, in particular, has become a very big deal. Online products are very confusing, even for my sharpest customers. So, we are doing a lot more personal service, finding the appropriate car service, the good restaurant or where to go for business services in Brussels, for instance. We have gotten more and more of that. Things have changed. It is a very new, very dynamic environment since 9/11.
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About Omega World Travel
Omega World Travel is a woman-owned, diversity supplier, and one of the largest travel management companies in the US. With worldwide headquarters in Fairfax, VA, Omega serves corporate, government, meeting, and leisure clients throughout the US., Europe, and the Middle East. Omega World Travel also owns Cruise.com, one of the largest sellers of cruises on the Internet, and TravTech, a software development company and Omega Meetings and Conference services.