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May 6, 2010
Grand Circle vs. The Volcano: Ensuring our travelers’ comfort and safety
The Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “It is difficulties that show what men are.” I absolutely agree: When we’re faced with challenges in life, how we deal with unforeseen obstacles is as important as the outcome.
That’s why Alan and I are so proud of Grand Circle associates, who rose to the occasion recently when a volcano in Iceland erupted and wreaked havoc on the travel industry. The billowing clouds of smoke and ash brought air traffic in Europe to a standstill for nine days—the longest period of airport closures our company has ever experienced.
With more than 3,000 Grand Circle and OAT travelers unable to make their scheduled flights to and from the U.S., our associates—here in Boston and in our regional offices—sprung into action. Coming together as a strong, unified team, they worked tirelessly to ensure the comfort, safety, and peace of mind of our travelers. And while Alan and I can attest to the outstanding performance of individual associates and the company as a whole, we’d prefer to let our travelers do the talking. Here’s what Grand Circle travelers personally affected by the volcano’s eruption had to say about how we handled the situation …
From first-time travelers Dorothy & William Ray, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, in Europe for our Holland & Belgium in Springtime River Cruise:
“We were amazed at the kindness shown to us … we were handled with almost a ‘motherly love.’ Grand Circle not only treated us nicely by allowing us to stay on the ship and continuing to feed us three meals a day, they did not charge us any extra money or tell us we would have to fight the insurance company for any reimbursement. They even arranged to take people who had run out of their medicines to a local pharmacy.”
From 5-time travelers Karen & Mike Palmiotti, of Santa Rosa, California, in Europe for our Amalfi Coast & Tuscany vacation:
“Patti, the Italian representative for Grand Circle, was in constant contact with our Program Director, Giuseppe, reassuring us that the company had things under control. We were told that if we could not take our scheduled flight we would not have to run all over Europe to find a way home—and that Grand Circle would put us up at a hotel at THEIR expense.
Having such dedicated people watching out for you when you’re 6,000 miles away from home, and traveling with a company that stands by its reputation, made us and the other travelers in our group feel secure and supported in the midst of a worldwide catastrophe. We heard horror stories about other companies abandoning their clients and/or not providing them with accommodations … and we feel almost guilty that everything went so smoothly for us.”
From 41-time travelers Frank Lamson-Scribner & Jacquie Morrison, of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, in Europe for our Holland & Belgium in Springtime River Cruise:
“We want to thank Grand Circle for the almost inconceivable way our trip to Holland and Belgium was taken care of in the wake of the Icelandic volcano eruption. Staying aboard the River Aria (a 5-star vessel, in our book) for six days made what could have been a most unpleasant experience into one of happiness.
Over the years, we’ve noted that one of the best things about Grand Circle is how things are handled when ‘things go wrong’ … you’ve always figured out how to substitute or conceive other activities that end up making a trip even better than advertised.”
Finally, we received a letter from Mark S. Smith, of Midlothian, Virginia, who has never traveled with us before—but is considering doing so now. “I just received an email from a friend that acknowledges Grand Circle’s superior service,” he told us. “A laudatory and unsolicited letter from one friend to another is a sincere and powerful testament to the quality of service—and the decency and compassion—of your company and its management. If and when my wife and I decide to take a river cruise, we will certainly choose Grand Circle.”
As you can imagine, comments like these are immensely gratifying, as we’re always striving to deliver the best possible service and support to our travelers. As I said before, Alan and I are incredibly proud of the way our associates dealt with this unprecedented crisis—and grateful to know that our travelers approve of and appreciate our efforts.