Here’s how meeting planners can deal with delays, cancellations, shutdowns, mergers and other airline industry woes:
Purchase insurance coverage. Granted, it may be too expensive for some businesses. But insurers point to airline maintenance disruptions and bankruptcy shutdowns, noting that new, lower-cost products can be tailored to such contingencies.
Example: Prime Travel Protection has rolled out the Conference Protection Plan (www.conferenceprotection.com). The policy costs $27.95 for individual attendees and covers registration and cancellation fees, airline change fees and hotel cancellations.
Use professional travel agents during the next year or so. Professional meeting planners say it’s well worth the cost.
Acquire at least a base knowledge of airline structures and routes to the meeting destination, and be able to provide reasonable and realistic alternatives.
Consider concierge services via charge card programs and be cognizant of how to activate them in a crisis.
Stay on your toes. Pay attention to news about airlines’ financial performances, so you can be proactive about changing travel plans before a crisis hits.
— Adapted from “Up in the Air,” William J. McGee, Meetings & Conventions.
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