<![CDATA[EWA Travel - News]]>Mon, 07 Dec 2015 23:07:38 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[A Chat with a EWA Travel Counselor Featuring Laura Cohn]]>Thu, 19 Nov 2015 19:29:47 GMThttp://ewatravelblog.weebly.com/news/a-chat-with-a-ewa-travel-counselor-featuring-laura-cohnPicture
At EWA Travel, we believe that our travel counselors are the super heroes of our company when it comes to delivering excellent quality customized travel services to our NGO, corporate, and leisure clients. They are the ones that help out our travelers when they’re in need. We have 13 travel counselors whom are hand-picked international specialists averaging more than 23 years within the industry. Today, I decided that I wanted you to get to know a little bit more about our travel counselors so I asked one of our EWA Travel counselors, Laura Cohn, if she wanted to do an interview for this article and she said yes.

     Before we get into the interview, you should first know about Laura’s background. Laura Cohn is a Certified Travel Counselor and Meeting Planner. She is also our assistant managerial director here are EWA Travel. She has been in the travel industry for about 25 years and has been with EWA since 2013. Leadership is one of the major assets that she brings to our company, as she has held previous managerial positions at other firms. She is also highly skilled in delivering customer service and has big number of clients that have been loyal to her for many years. If you were to ever call Laura up, I can ensure you that you will hear the most pleasant, sweet, and calm voice ever. She is very helpful to all of our travelers and for that reason, I wanted to ask her some questions about being a travel counselor and what advice she has for NGO and corporate travelers.

  1. What made you decide to become a travel counselor?
       While working in a bank after school, I noticed a travel agency next door. I talked to the agents and became ever more interested in planning trips for my friends. Then I enlisted my bank customers to book travel. The agents noticed my efforts and recommended that I should enroll in a travel school; I did and the rest is history.

  2. What do you find hard about your job?
       I don’t know if ‘hard’ is the right term to use, but noting the current terror threat, you presently have to be precise to assure that a customer’s name exactly matches their passport identity, and you have to be very cognizant of the pricing structure and fare rules, especially when passengers are traveling internationally.

  3. Customer service is very important to deliver in any type of service industry particularly in the travel industry. How do you handle angry and frustrated clients?
       I have had great success when handling angry clients by remaining calm, sympathetic, responsive, and available. I try never to take anything personally and always attempt to place myself in the disgruntled traveler’s position; that works every time.

  4.  Besides being a certified travel counselor you’re also a certified meeting planner. What is the difference between a certified travel counselor and a certified meeting planner?
        Except that one certification leads to travel and the other to meeting arrangements, the certification programs are quite similar. Both are designed to enhance knowledge and performance. They promote status, credibility, and lead to a uniform standard of practice. The certifications are achieved by professional experience, study groups, and examinations.  They are kept current with continuing education.

  5. Since you’re a travel counselor I must ask you this question. Do you love to travel?
          I love to travel but the myth, that travel agents get free trips all over the world whenever they like, is just that, a myth. On rare occasions I am offered a discounted rate or a free site inspection; when that is available, I do try to take advantage of it.

  6. What’s one of your favorite places to visit when you travel?
     I love the Caribbean; anyplace there has tropical sunny weather.  I also very much enjoy cruising.

  7. You’ve been with EWA Travel for two years now. How would you describe the experience that you’ve had with EWA Travel compared to the other agencies you’ve been with in your travel counseling career?
       In former travel agencies I was the most experienced agent; I now have 25 years of travel experience. But when I joined EWA I immediately noticed that all of my co-workers were equally experienced. All were working independently without need of assistance. Moreover, here was my boss Tom, with his Flat Line Leadership style, who could still teach me some intricate travel skills – I am still learning!

  8. What’s your favorite EWA Travel memory?
     My bitter sweet memories are linked to the Rosslyn Office. I call them ‘bitter sweet’ since one cannot remain tied to the past, one must look into the future. And there I see so much potential in the Herndon Office where I am challenged to build similar close working relationships with a new group of professionals.

  9. So traveling can be very stressful for organizations and I understand that it can be hard for any organization to coordinate their own travel. What advice would you give to NGO and corporate travelers in what they can do on their own to better prepare themselves before they take off for their trip?
       My advice to NGO and Corporate travelers is to caution them, that before they book travel (mode and carrier) and accommodation, make sure to check the Travel Information and Advisory Reports available, to ensure that travel conditions to the target market are safe. This is an excellent first step before the final itinerary is planned.  The wise traveler also confirms any meetings and reservations, learns about the local culture and customs, about the applicable currency and exchange rate, and contacts the representatives at the Embassy or Consulate in the target country to make sure they have proper Visa documentation.
 
Posted by: Paul Kacoyanis
Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel

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<![CDATA[The 2 Alternative Communication Channels that Every Traveler Should Know About]]>Thu, 12 Nov 2015 20:40:31 GMThttp://ewatravelblog.weebly.com/news/the-2-alternative-communication-channels-that-every-traveler-should-know-about
     Communication, according to Webster’s Dictionary is the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information to an individual. It’s also a message that is given to someone. Every day we communicate with one another whether we’re at home or at work. We exchange information directly to people all the time in hopes that they can receive the message without any clutters in the way. Now, you’re wondering why I’m bringing this word up in my article. It’s because as a Travel Management Company, communicating to our clients is really critical especially when we have clients that need rebooking for their trips. Lots of critical things can happen when we have clients that are traveling all over the world. In fact, when they’re in trouble the first thing that they do is call our agency for assistance. I’ve mentioned before in one of my articles titled, “No Call Center? No Problem! Why Call Centers are a Waste of Time for Travelers,” about how large travel management companies (TMCs) typically have remote call centers, in which they have different lines for their clients’ different issues and it can cause a client to get lost and not receive the proper help right away. These remote call centers can also cause miscommunications between the TMC and their clients which isn’t good at all. Now if you were to call one of our travel agents right now, within three rings they will pick up the phone and help you out right away. No barriers no clutter just a straight direct connection. Sounds good, right? Well, even though the telephone is still an effective communication channel used by every traveler to contact their travel agent, when it comes to the amount of calls ringing into the agency it can sometimes be a challenge for travelers to get a hold of their travel agent.

     The most commonly used communication channel that every traveler will use to contact their agent is by the phone. How do I know this? It’s because every day at the office, our phones ring pretty much on a continuous basis throughout the day. Problem is when the phones keep ringing and ringing, it can then be hard for our clients to get a hold of one of our agents. It can depend on the time of day as well. Most travelers think that the phone is the best and only way to get into contact with their agent. However, when you’re on your trip thousands of miles away from home, it can sometimes be difficult to connect. There are two other communication channels that no traveler would ever think about using and they can just be as effective like the phone, and I want to share with you these two alternative communication channels that can help you get into contact with a travel agent in case the phone isn’t working out for you.
Email:

     Email is something that most of our clients know about and use especially when they’re booking their reservations with one of our travel agents. Even though the booking is completed in short time, still there are people that don’t think that they can still book their reservations or get help by just emailing their travel agent. Wait a minute, email might be good and all but wouldn’t the response time be slow? Well, actually no and let me explain why.  For example, here at EWA Travel our travel agents will respond to a traveler’s email within 30 minutes. Each of our travel counselors have their own individual email addresses, and we do provide a listing of those travel counselors’ email addresses that are assigned to a particular client. In addition of using email, we have the ability to customize a reservation email for any of our corporate, leisure, or NGO travelers. In fact, travelers have the ability to make their reservations through a generic reservations email address which is hern@ewatravel.com. We can even make a special email address for a client and it can be formatted like this for example TheGrace&PeaceFoundation@ewatravel.com. This special email address can then be routed to our travel counselors that are assigned to that client. This email address can even be programmed for re-routing to an alternate service representative when the main assigned agents are not available. Even though email might take a little bit longer than calling an agent to get immediate assistance, you can still continue to receive that same fast and direct help from them.
Skype:

     This is another communication channel that most travelers don’t really think about using when they’re in trouble, especially if they’re not getting good reception from their phones. Skype is a cloud based Internet software application where people can talk face-to-face to each other. Not only does Skype allow users to communicate face-to-face with a camera they can also talk to one another without the camera.  Not only can you download this app on your laptop or desktop computer, you can also download it on your mobile phone and tablet as well (not to mention it’s free to download from the Google Play and Apps Stores). You can actually talk to a travel agent over Skype for free and still get your reservations or rebooking’s done for your trip. If you’re someone who is very tech savvy then this is an app that you can use when you want to talk to an agent to get help. And even if you’re not tech savvy, this is still a great app for you to use especially if you’re traveling internationally.
           
     Email and Skype are the two best alternative communication channels that you can use to contact a travel counselor. The phone is the most common and traditional communication channel that everybody relies on the most for booking their reservations and getting help from an agent but when the phones are ringing non-stop during peak calling hours or you can’t get good reception on the road, then you should have another option to contact a travel agent to let them know that you need assistance.

     Most places make it hard for their clients to get in contact with one of their staff members, but here we value each of our clients’ needs and we want them to have as many options as possible to be able to reach us if they are in need. Not to mention we don’t have any barriers in the way. Traveling can be challenge for anyone and it’s because most of the time things don’t go as according to plan. So it’s important for all travelers to have as many options to communicate to their agent especially when they’re in trouble and need help right away.

Paul Kacoyanis
Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel


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<![CDATA[Why It’s Important to Stay Alert When You Travel]]>Thu, 05 Nov 2015 19:30:58 GMThttp://ewatravelblog.weebly.com/news/why-its-important-to-stay-alert-when-you-travel     We know as a travel management company (TMC) that when anybody flies for their trip, a critical moment can occur out of nowhere at any time. It’s like a blind spot when you think about it. Delays and cancellations can appear unexpectedly at travelers and hit them hard like a football linebacker is sacking a quarterback from behind. This is because most travelers are not informed about a critical moment and just simply don’t know about it until it’s too late. This can be especially frustrating for an NGO or a corporate traveler. The fact that they find out that their flight got canceled just because of either an earthquake, inclement weather, political revolution, or a power outage in a particular area. Either way, once a traveler is informed that their flight is delayed or cancelled, they then have to go to the airline desk where they find themselves in a very long line with other angry travelers. And because of that long and dreadful line that travelers might have to wait in, their flight might get rebooked for a later date which can then make it inconvenient for them. Now if you had one of our travel counselors booking your reservations, they would have let you know ahead of time if some sort of emergency was occurring in the area in which you were in, and it’s because our travel consultants have the Sabre Traveler Security system. In fact, this is a part of our service and it’s free. Knowing ahead of time cannot only help reduce NGO and corporate travelers’ frustrations when traveling, but it can also reduce their risk of traveling in dangerous parts of the world.

     Being alerted is very important especially for NGO and corporate travelers that fly to international countries. One of the ways that you and other travelers can be alerted about emergency crises that are going on around the world is by going on our website. When you arrive on our website (www.ewatravel.com), you will notice that we always keep up-to-date information including daily international travel alerts. We do this because we want to inform our NGO and corporate travelers on what’s happening around the world. It’s one of the ways we communicate with you.

     Our website isn’t the only resource for our travelers to use when they want to know what’s happening around the world. We also have our travel counselors inform our travelers no matter what part of the world they might be in if something major is going on. So say for example that you were in Congo giving out Malaria vaccinations to a village, when all of a sudden a volcano erupts 60 miles away from your location. What are you going to do? Are you going to panic? I hope the answer is no! You wouldn’t have to worry about it if you had one of our travel agents by your side. In fact, our expert travel counselors can know about a particular travel alert before you do and it’s because they use the Sabre Traveler Security system. 

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     This security system informs our travel consultants of global catastrophes that are going on around the world. In fact, the Sabre Traveler Security program allows our travel counselors to pinpoint all travelers’ locations and contact information in affected areas. Our travel counselors monitor global events and crises, as well as performing searches for any affected travelers on a daily basis. The assigned travel agents can immediately contact both the travelers and the travel managers to determine what itinerary changes can be made. Having that immediate connection and contact can help NGO, corporate, and international travelers avoid any danger. Not to mention waiting in long lines at the airports to get immediate assistance. Because of this security program that is used at our company, the EWA Travel counselors can quickly make any changes and rebook reservations right away, so that way travelers won’t have to worry about booking any flights to come home at the airport.  It’s one of the reasons why having a travel counselor is still important to have today.

     Being alerted can very important for anybody that travels internationally especially for those that are NGO and corporate travelers. You never know what can happen when you travel. It’s one of the ways of reducing risk for our travelers. Here at EWA Travel, we are the ones that know ahead of time when a disaster is occurring and we let our travelers know about it right way.


Paul Kacoyanis
​Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel
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<![CDATA[The Flat Line Organizational Structure Is the Way We Roll]]>Thu, 29 Oct 2015 17:50:16 GMThttp://ewatravelblog.weebly.com/news/the-flat-line-organizational-structure-is-the-way-we-roll
     Every company no matter what type of industry they are in have their own corporate cultures. What is a corporate culture? It’s the work environment of a company that includes their staff, size, traditions, and structures. Now, each company’s culture is typically different from others. However, most companies pretty much have one of these two traditional structures within their corporate cultures. They are known as the horizontal and the vertical structures. Both of these structures typically are the same when you think about it. These structures provide power over others and sometimes employees may feel like they’re in their own little worlds. They feel like they’re separated from their other co-workers that work in different departments. They may not feel as if they’re a part of the family even though that’s what every HR professional says to new employees, “We are all one big happy family.”  Companies that have these structures can also have a hard time communicating with each other and getting to know one another. Typically, companies that have vertical and horizontal organizational structures are either medium or large businesses. On the other hand, small businesses such as EWA Travel typically don’t have a lot of employees nor big offices. At EWA, we have a different kind of structure known as the flat line organization structure. This organizational structure has been a great part of our corporate culture and it has brought our staff closer together like a real family.

     Before you know what a flat line organization structure is, you should first know how this organization structure started at EWA. Our President, Tom Ollinger, was the one who came up with this idea of having a flat line organization structure for EWA Travel. His philosophy of a flat line management enables him and our Vice President, Chris Van Dyke, to maintain intimate contact with staff, stay close to our clients’ needs, and keep up-to-date with the changes in the travel industry. As a result we have had one of the highest staff and client retention rates. This in a way has helped made our company’s bond very strong in many ways.
 
     What is a flat line organization structure? It’s an organization structure that has few or no levels of management between staff level employees. This helps remove excess layers of management which improves the communication between employees, and of course with the amount of clients that we have traveling all over the world it is important that all of our travel counselors work together as a team. Which is why if you were ever to come into our office in Herndon, you will notice that all of our travel counselors are sitting down in the suite with no cubicles nor any other type of barriers in the way. If one of our travel counselors needs help with something, then one of our three or four travel counselors can immediately assist them right away. In some ways when we all work together we all work as a team. In fact, no matter how many departments we have here at EWA, we always work together as a team which in some ways brings us together as a family.

     Like every company we do have departments. We have only three department at EWA Travel and they are accounting, marketing, and travel consolation. We also have a total of 17 employees at EWA. It might sound really small at first and you guessed it, everybody knows each other pretty well. In fact, most of our staff have been around for well over a decade. Our Vice President of Accounting, Molly, has been at EWA since 1988 and she told me this past summer when I came to EWA that her first job in the States was with EWA. She also said that she viewed Tom as a friend and not as a manager. In fact, our President and Vice President, Tom and Chris, don’t have a personal office space. You think I’m joking…I am not joking. I am being for real, both Tom and Chris actually sit in the suite with the other travel counselors. Again this is going back to the travel counselors at EWA helping each other out. Only Molly, Mirna, and I have offices but we keep our doors open most of time (it can sometimes get loud with the agents talking to each other and on the phone). Anyways, everybody in the office always has a big smile and love their jobs here at EWA.

     Having a flat line organization structure has brought us all together. It’s one of the reasons why most of our employees have stayed for a very long time. Also, because we have a warm and friendly culture, everybody feels like they are a part of the family. Everybody respects each other and yeah we all have our disagreements at times, but at our Holiday Parties that we have each December we all come together as one big happy EWA Travel family.
 
Paul Kacoyanis
Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel

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<![CDATA[ The True Meaning of Group Travel]]>Thu, 22 Oct 2015 19:06:47 GMThttp://ewatravelblog.weebly.com/news/what-the-true-meaning-of-group-travel-is

     Group travel…what is it? Is it when you travel in an assigned group with people you don’t know? Is it when you travel with 5 friends to the Bahamas? Why do travel agencies always say that they can provide group travel reservations and yet they don’t explain what it is? There are few people (and this included myself at one time) that don’t really understand what group travel is. The first thing that pops into their heads, is the fact that group travel is when there’s a group of people that travel together for the same reason and that’s true. Actually, there’s more than just that. In fact, there are two types of group travel and one of them provides a huge benefit for all travelers including organizations when they fly.

     The first type of group travel is when an organization has over 500-1,000 of its employees traveling together to all different parts of the world. For example, one of our managers, Chris, told me that she’s going to be making over 1,000 reservations next summer for one of our clients that plans on having their employees traveling from Africa to the United States. Now at first that might sound like group travel and technically it is, but Chris told me that she plans on making the reservations individually. Also, out of the 1,000 of those travelers many of them plan to fly on different flights and land in different U.S airports. And for that reason it’s actually not the group travel that our company refers to. The real group travel is what gives the best deals to people that plan on traveling together.

     Group travel is defined as when 10 or more people are all traveling together and are going from Point A-to-Point B. They are also all booked for the same reservation. What makes group traveling really nice is the fact that the airlines will give those 10 or more travelers a discount on their airfare. I’m not joking! In fact according to Southwest Airlines, “If you're traveling with a group of ten or more people, our Group Travel Program is for you! The program provides extra flexibility and discounted air fare to help make your travel experience affordable, easy, and fun.” Take this as an example. Say that you and your 12 friends decide to travel to the Dominican Republic together for a couple of weeks. You all plan on leaving at the same time, from the same airport, on the exact same airplane, and you guys will all arrive at the same airport in the Dominican Republic. That would be consider group travel and you would receive a discount from the airline.

     Group travel doesn’t have to just be all about making reservations for vacationing purposes. Organizations can take advantage of this as well. If one of our clients were to plan on sending 20 of their employees to Ethiopia to help build homes in a small village, then our travel agents can go ahead and book them for a group travel reservation. The organization can receive a discount, and Chris told me that in the past when she booked group travel reservations for our clients they’ve received upwards of a $500 discount on their airfares. She even mentioned that it can also depend on the amount of volume that the airplane has. So if the plane was 25% sold the group travel reservation would cost less compared to a capacity of 50%. Our expert travel counselors also use the Sabre reservation system, and they can even find low air fare discounts when they’re booking group travel reservations. It’s one of the many reasons why travel counselors are still being used today. Group travel can be taken advantage by anyone. Receiving airfare discounts is a benefit for all travelers and that is the true meaning of group travel.

Paul Kacoyanis
Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel
 
Source: Southwest Airlines, Group Travel (https://www.southwest.com/html/air/business-groups/group-travel.html


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<![CDATA[5 Powerful Ways to Prepare for a Trip]]>Thu, 15 Oct 2015 19:27:04 GMThttp://ewatravelblog.weebly.com/news/5-powerful-ways-to-prepare-for-a-trip

     Getting ready for a trip might sound easier said than done. Some people plan for their trips at least one-to-two days before they take off. If you ever prepare for your trip at the last minute, I can ensure you that a disaster is waiting to happen. You’ll probably end up getting stressed out, because you’ll worry that you might miss your flight or not accomplish anything on your trip. You might also not pack enough clothes or certain items (i.e. a phone charger). Preparing for a trip can be difficult for most people. They feel like that there’s so much to do in so little time. Don’t feel like you have little time to do so much just to prepare for a trip. Instead, use these 5 tips the next time you’re preparing for a trip.

Tip 1. Book all Reservations In Advance:
     
     When you start to plan for your trip, you should start off on the right foot by booking all of your reservations first. That’s right, you want to have your flight, hotel, and car rental booked first before you actually start planning for what you’re going to be doing and bring on your trip. Actually, if you booked for a trip two months early the prices for airfare, hotel, and car rental can cost less than twenty days before you travel. It’s actually best to book your reservations at least two-to-three months before you travel. In fact, when I first came to EWA back in July, one of our travel counselors, Laura, was booking group travel arrangements four-to-five months in advance. Seriously! Planning for a trip takes a lot of time and it’s a long process. As soon as your reservations are confirmed, save any receipts (i.e. air ticket) on your computer and print out at least two copies. Printing two or more copies of your airline ticket receipts and e-tickets can help avoid you from losing or misplacing your ticket before you travel. Take care of business and get your reservations out of the way as early as possible.

Tip 2. Create Your Own Itinerary:

     After booking your reservations, make the time to create your own itinerary for your trip. What I mean by creating your own itinerary is simply planning out what you or the people you’re traveling with are going to be doing on the trip. This can be visiting a museum, going to a cafe to eat lunch, taking a tour of a historical place, the time and place you need to be for your business meeting, what you’re going to be working on in a small African village, etc. By planning out what you want to do on your tip, can also help you book tickets/reservations ahead of time if you wanted to either see a play or visit a museum. You always should plan ahead of time on what you want to accomplish when you travel.

Tip 3. Pack A Week Early:

​     This is a big problem that people have and that is packing all of their clothes as well as their important items at the last minute. When you rush and pack 24 hours before your flight takes off, you are most likely going to forget something very important such as an iPhone charger or your passport. My advice is that you should start packing a week before you take off for your trip. Make a list on what you need to bring along with you and check it off when you’re packing. Also, make sure you pack clean clothes so that means doing your laundry a week before you travel. Now most people have the fear and anxiety of packing the wrong clothes or whether they should pack light or heavy. If you have that fear and anxiety then I suggest you download the PackPoint app on your smartphone. This app is free to download on either the Google Play Store or the App Store, and it can tell you what you need to pack based on how long your trip is, what the weather conditions are going to be when you travel, if you’re traveling for business or leisure, what you should take if you plan on traveling internationally, and what type of clothing you should pack based on the activities you plan on doing for your trip. Check out the YouTube video below to see how the PackPoint app works.



​Tip 4. Get to the Airport Early:

     When I was a senior in high school, one of my teachers had this motto when you showed up to his class, “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is unacceptable.” So once you got everything all ready to go, it’s time for you to start planning on when you need to arrive at the airport. To make sure that you don’t miss your flight, you should arrive at the airport three-to-four hours early. I know that may sound really early but you need to consider the time it will take you to check in, get past security, and find the gate that you’re going to board the plane. There are always long lines at the check-in and security stations. So it would probably take you at least an hour and half to get everything situated especially if you are in a group of people traveling together. Take your time getting everything organized and don’t rush through everything when you’re at the airport like the McCallister family did in the first two Home Alone movies.

Tip 5. Make Yourself Productive At The Gate:

     When you find your gate, you should plan on what you are going to be doing for the next couple of hours especially if your flight gets delayed. Airports are like malls, aren’t they? You can certainly find places at the airport to eat and shop. But even after you shop and grab a bite to eat, you are going to have to be at the gate and wait until they allow customers to board the plane. To avoid the long and boring wait plan on doing these two things. First, you can take either your smartphone, laptop, or tablet out to watch YouTube videos, Netflix, or Hulu. Watching movies, videos, and shows can certainly help kill the time while you wait. You should also bring your phone, laptop, and tablet chargers with you and if you can try find an outlet at the gate. That way you won’t have to worry about the battery life running out while you’re flying. It’s also one of the reasons why you should arrive at the airport early, especially if you plan on using your computer or mobile devices at the airport. Second, you can also do some of your assignments/projects that have to be done for your job. This will help keep you productive as well as kill some time while you wait at the gate. Not to mention this can also help you stay on top of your work.

​     These are really good ways for you to get ahead of the ball game when you prepare for your trip. Try to avoid planning for your trip at the last minute and use these tips as guide to help you accomplish the things you want to do when you travel. Let me know how these tips work out for you.


Paul Kacoyanis
Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel​
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<![CDATA[It’s All About E-tickets in the 21st Century! Why Paper Tickets Have Gone the Way of the Dinosaurs]]>Thu, 08 Oct 2015 18:11:41 GMThttp://ewatravelblog.weebly.com/news/its-all-about-e-tickets-in-the-21th-century-why-paper-tickets-have-gone-the-way-of-the-dinosaurs

     The world has changed in many ways over the last 25 years. When we all entered into the 21th century 15 years ago we saw a dramatic change in technology. Look what’s happened! We have the amazing Internet which has made our lives so much easier to live. Google has become the new encyclopedia, people are sharing information and connecting with each other on social media, consumers are buying products/services online, people are streaming movies and T.V shows on their computers, and we are depositing checks as well as paying bills on our mobile devices. Wow! That’s pretty sweet!  It’s made our lives so much easier to live but here’s the catch. There are some people that are not up with the times and that’s okay. However, for the past few weeks I’ve been noticing this question being asked frequently which is, “How does your agency produce and deliver paper tickets?” Now if this was 1994 I probably could explain the step-by-step process on how a paper ticket is created and delivered, but in 2015 I can’t explain that. It’s because today our travel counselors actually don’t make paper tickets anymore. In fact, through an IATA mandate back in 2008, the travel industry has moved to creating and distributing 100% of airline tickets electronically. In addition, most airlines prohibit the issuance of paper tickets and many airport personnel are prohibited from accepting paper tickets. I’m guessing you’re wondering how tickets are issued now and what it was like for our travel agents back in the 90’s?

     About a couple of weeks ago, I asked my colleagues Chris and Kim about how paper tickets were created and distributed to travelers. They gave me a quick tutorial on how paper tickets were made back in the 1990’s/early 2000’s. First they showed me an old paper ticket and when I saw it for the first I was completely shocked on what it looked like. It had at least 4 pages and Chris mentioned that sometimes she would have to staple two or more paper tickets together depending on where the client(s) were traveling to. The paper tickets were also small and both my colleagues said that they used to fill them out by hand. But what I was really surprised to hear was that they used to make over 10 of these tickets in a day. That was a lot of work for them. Chris also mentioned that the amount of time it took to create a paper ticket depended on how many were issued in a day. If there were one-way tickets it would take less time and if they were round-trip tickets it would take longer. Once the tickets were made, the travel agents would then get a mail carrier to deliver the tickets which could take 24-72 hours to get to the travelers before they took off for their trips. This also cost a lot of money to deliver the airline tickets as well. But ever since we’ve enter the digital age, tickets have now become easier for our travel agents to create and deliver to our travelers. 
   
     Today, all our travel counselors create airline tickets through the Sabre reservation system. Tickets are now call e-tickets because they’re made electronically instead of by hand. Even delivery tickets to travelers has changed as well. Once a reservation goes through, the traveler can expect to receive their e-ticket receipt via Tripcase and email. In addition, travelers will be able to print their actual e-tickets/boarding passes on the airlines’ websites within 24 before flight departure. Travelers also have the option to receive their e-tickets/boarding passes from the airline on their mobile apps. No matter which method travelers use, all they have to do is show either their mobile smartphone or the boarding pass that they printed online, and then they just either hand over or scan their e-tickets at the gate. That’s it!

     Paper tickets in the past were a pain for our travel agents and our clients. Making and then shipping them was just a hassle. Now thanks to the amazing mobile devices and not to mention how email is used frequently now, all airline tickets are virtually done on the computer and are easy to deliver. Not to mention the cost of delivery an airline ticket is now $0. Technology has changed the way we travel today, and those lovely paper tickets that were around for decades have now gone the way of the dinosaurs. 

Paul Kacoyanis
​Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel


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<![CDATA[No Call Center? No Problem! Why Call Centers are a Waste of Time for Travelers ]]>Thu, 01 Oct 2015 17:42:52 GMThttp://ewatravelblog.weebly.com/news/no-call-center-no-problem-why-call-centers-are-a-waste-of-time-for-travelers
     I’m guessing this has happened to you before in your life. You got angry at a company because something went wrong and you needed help right away. You call up that company and then this annoying robotic voice comes up saying something like this, “Thank you for calling the so and so company, if you’re calling to place an order press one, to reschedule a reservation press two, to make a reservation press three, to learn more about our products press four, to learn more about our services press five, and if you have a question press six otherwise stay on the line and somebody will be with you in a moment.” At this point you don’t know what to press. You press six and wait 10 minutes for somebody. Now that somebody answers and then says to you that they can’t help you so they transfer you to someone else. At this point you are asking your-self if this is good customer service. You wait another 15 minutes. The robotic voice tells you that its peak calling time and they say to stay on the line. Finally, you get to someone else. Problem is, you’re already mad and you start going off on them. They try to help you out, but because you’re stressed out from waiting for almost 30 minutes that customer representative starts to get stressed out too. That representative is able to help you within 15 minutes and the problem is resolved but you just spent a good 40 minutes on the phone listening to a tune and hearing that annoying robot saying, “Please stay on the line, your call is very important to us.” Important? You know what I would’ve done? I would have just hung up the phone and never bought anything from that company again. So you are wondering where I’m going with this. It’s because at EWA we don’t believe in remote call center environments.  In fact, if you ever call during our regular hours, I can assure you that your phone call will be answered by a live EWA travel agent within three rings. It’s actually one of the company values and it ranks the list at number one.

     In the travel industry, we know that anything can happen to NGO and corporate travelers. When an emergency situation occurs and your flight gets delayed or cancelled, you’re most likely to call your travel management company (TMC) that your organization uses. Now if a robotic voice comes up, things are going to go wrong for you. You’ll get mad, the problem won’t get resolved immediately, and a lot of time is taken away from you as well. So here’s the catch on why we don’t have a remote call center at EWA:

     1. It doesn’t provide good customer service.

     2. Everybody has a busy schedule and they want to stay on top of their schedules.

     3. Call centers provide too many departments. You might not get connected to the right department/person and that causes you to wait even longer.

     4. And most importantly…IT’S A WASTE OF TIME!

     Having a call center environment could make things worse for our clients. It would take a lot of time away from them and problems wouldn’t get resolved in a timely fashion. Overall, respond times can be slow and nobody likes that. As a travel management company, we believe in providing a quick response time. A lot of things can happen when you travel and to help avoid you from getting stressed out or even angry, we answer our phones immediately so you can get on your way as fast as possible. Even during peak calling hours when a specific EWA travel counselor is requested and is not available to take the call, either that travel counselor will call you back immediately when available, or if urgent another available travel counselor will assist with the requests and needs from that client. As we stand by our creed, “Service is delivering what we promise and quality is doing it right the first time." And by providing a no remote call center environment, we can communicate with our clients faster and resolve their travel problems/needs instantly.


Paul Kacoyanis
Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel

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<![CDATA[Why Travel Agents Are Still Being Used Today & How They Can Still Be Great Resources for Travelers]]>Thu, 24 Sep 2015 15:23:01 GMThttp://ewatravelblog.weebly.com/news/why-travel-agents-are-still-being-used-today-how-they-can-still-be-great-resources-for-travelers1
     This is what people say when they hear these three wonderful words. “A travel agent…WHAT?! I don’t need one of those. They’re practically extinct and it’s all thanks to the Internet! Why would I pay extra for a travel agent when I can book online? Because really, who needs one in the 21st century? These online booking sites have cheap fares and I can book my trip in a flash! What can possibly go wrong by not using a travel agent?” Well, let me tell you that there are a lot of things that can wrong if you use online booking sites such as Expedia and Travelocity. Yes, you might book your trip easily and quickly but let me ask you this. Without having a travel agent, can you manage all of the problems that may arise if something goes wrong on your own? Think about it. You’re at the airport ready to go on your business trip, when all of a sudden a huge snow storm comes in out of nowhere and your flight gets cancelled. What do you do? You get mad and you panic! You’re like, “OMG! This is a disaster!” You try calling the travel website that you booked your trip with and then you hear a robotic voice saying, “Welcome! If you’re having issues booking your trip press 1. If you’re still making reservations press 2. If you wish to cancel a flight press 3. If there’s a change in your schedule press 4. If you have any questions press 5. If wish to speak to a customer representative press 6.” A-ah! You press six and the robot tells you to stay on the line while they get you a customer representative. This takes about 30 minutes. You tell the customer representative what happened, and then they transfer you to someone who can help you rebook your flight. Then you wait for another 20 minutes. At this point you’re really getting angry. You scream at that representative. You want them to fix the problem right away and they do. Problem is, they booked you on a flight that leaves late and you have to pay extra for it. Now you blow up like a balloon! You have to get to your meeting at 11:00 AM the next day. Just when you thought it was a great idea to book with an online travel site, you now have just missed an important meeting.

     Making a reservation through a travel website can really bring you down with the customer service that they provide. Yes, technology has changed the way we live especially when it comes to traveling, but when you get stuck at the airport or in a foreign country what can that online booking site do for you? Not much actually.  So, how do you avoid something like this?

     Have no fear…the EWA travel agents are here to help! There are a lot of people who think that travel agents are no longer used because of the Internet and that might be true if you were planning a vacation trip. However, when you travel for a business or a mission trip having one of our travel agents can be a great resource for you and your organization. Our travel counselors save you money and time and if you get stuck in a jam at the airport or wherever you’re located, they can help right away.

     So last week I was talking with one of our travel agents, Kristin, about the GetThere online booking tool that our clients use, and she mentioned how most people book their own trips online and don’t think that they need a travel agent. She went on to say that there are still some vacation travel agents out there, which are great for Disney trips, cruises and group travel tours to Hawaii. She told me that when she tells people that she’s a travel agent, people look at her funny and they have that confusion on their faces. Then she mentions that she a corporate travel agent. So you are wondering why I shared this with you.  Corporate agents play a huge role in the travel industry.  They can move 900 fellows from Africa to the U.S., 300 Georgians to New York in one swoop.  Imagine trying to make that many individual reservations online.  It just can’t be done. 

     As a travel agent, Kristin and the other 12 EWA Travel Counselors help our clients (both NGOs and businesses) with finding low fares through the Sabre reservation system, are able to book over 500 reservations for one client, negotiate with travel suppliers (airline, hotel, and car rental) for low fares, and they can help a traveler when and if an emergency crisis comes up. Our travel agents are like the superheroes for our clients. Because we don’t have remote call centers, our agents can immediately answer a phone call within three rings and assist our clients right away. Not to mention, each of our clients gets paired up with 2 EWA agents, so they’ll actually know the names of those agents. In some ways, it’s liking having a friend or a partner at their side. That personal relationship is the key that helps us stay close with our clients, and it also helps our clients know that they are in good hands.

     Now you see why it’s important to have a travel agent. They are the drivers for our clients. They steer them in the right direction and know what’s best for them. You don’t believe me? Check out our client testimonials (https://www.ewatravel.com/testimonial2.htm). So yes, we might not be a major travel management company with over 100 agents, but our size is what makes us different when it comes to helping our clients. Having your own personal EWA Travel agent can really make a difference. Think of it like this. It’s like going to college. I went to a small college that had less than 5,000 students and because my college was small in student body size, I was able to know my professors and they even got to know me as well. Now if I had gone to Virginia Tech, I would’ve been a number and not a person. Professors would had not known who I was. To them, I would had been “Student Number 24,632” and that’s how big travel management companies are with their clients. Anyway, since we have 13 travel counselors, our agents treat each client as a human being and not a number. The travel agents know who the clients are and their own individual travel needs. So the next time you plan to take a business or mission trip, let our team of travel coordinators make your journey an easy one for you to enjoy. 


Paul Kacoyanis
Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel



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<![CDATA[How the “4Cs” Can Help Improve the Way Organizations Travel]]>Thu, 17 Sep 2015 16:39:52 GMThttp://ewatravelblog.weebly.com/news/how-the-4cs-can-help-improve-the-way-organizations-travel
     
     
“This sucks! I can’t get a hold of the airline, the stupid hotel clerk booked the wrong nights for the executives, and it’s costing almost half of the company’s budget! I’ve just about had enough of this!!!” This is something that might be said if someone either you, or one of your co-workers were managing all of the traveling logistics for your organization. Let’s just say that traveling is much harder than it is. Yeah there’s a lot of planning that goes into it, but then you have to deal with booking the right airlines, making sure that everyone can get to the airport on time, hope that no delays or cancellations come up, and making sure that you don’t go over your organization’s budget. It’s actually what we do for our clients. We handle all of their traveling needs, while they can continue to work on other assignments that they have to do for their organizations and not have to worry about making the travel arrangements themselves. In fact, our travel consultants are the ones who get bombarded with making the reservations and booking low fare rates for our clients. Wait! Did I just say that our travel consultants try to find low fares for our clients? I think I just did! Actually, our travel consultants do try to find low fares for flights, hotel, and car rental. This is part of the “4Cs” process that we use to help our clients meet their travel needs.


     At EWA, we have developed a reservation process known as the “4 Cs” which is our way of creating a great strategy for organizations to receive customized travel services that are tailored to their need, as well as an easier way to communicate to the travelers by providing them with viable options to make good itinerary decisions based on the flexibility of choice, convenience, comfort, and cost. What makes the “4Cs” so unique is how it allows our corporate clients to take control on how they want to travel, as well as providing them with cost-effective outcomes for their budgets.

Choice:

     Everybody should have the option on how they want to travel. When our travel consultants are going through the reservation process for our clients, they want to hear from them on what airline they preferred to fly on, what hotel they want to stay at, and what car rental they prefer to go with. It’s also important that each organization has the right to choose which flyer programs can would work best for them as well. Choice matters when organizations travel, and everyone should feel comfortable with the choices that they make when they go on their trips.

Comfort:

     Choice leads to comfort and nobody should fly statically when they travel. We feel that each of our clients should at least feel comfortable with how they want to travel. By providing upgrade possibilities, best seating, and best in-flight services EWA can make traveling for organizations go from static to relaxation. Everybody should feel relaxed when they travel, especially for those that go on international trips. With comfort, employees can enjoy traveling with ease and feel good about the services that the airline is providing for them. We strive to make sure that our clients are getting the best comfort out of their traveling experience.

Convenience:



     Time is very important for all of us. In fact, according to one of my economic professors that I had in college it’s also a scarce resource. We see that from our clients and all of our travel consultants always makes sure to work around their busy schedules when they’re booking flights for them. What we mean by providing our travelers with convenience is the fact that we’re booking non-stop flights, booking the closest airport to the office or home, and allowing travelers to choose a preferred arrival and departure time. Sticking to schedules are very important for all corporate travelers, and it’s our duty to make sure that our travelers get to their destinations on time.

Cost:

     Traveling can be very expensive especially when it comes to flying. No organization wants to spend a great amount of their budget on flying. With the highly advance technology that we use in the travel industry, we try to find the best low fares for our clients. We make sure that there are no-frills, all flights are connected, and our clients can receive promotional discounts from the airlines that they’re flying on. It’s one of the ways we make sure that each of our clients’ travel needs are cost-effective.

     The “4Cs” overall provide an effective method to meet all different types of travel needs for any organization. Without the “4Cs”, there’s no way organizations can get the best outcome with their travel needs and we encourage all of our clients to take advantage of this. So what do you think? Can the “4Cs” help improve the way your organization travels?


Paul Kacoyanis
Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel

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