The Realities of Travel Operations

After two prep days (and two nights of disjointed sleep due to jet lag) arrival day is finally here. Welcome packets are stuffed, room gifts wrapped and we are ready to rock and roll! As a meeting planner we spend months meticulously planning every last detail down to the pattern of china for the gala event or how to word an amenity card. On a larger scale, we have to painstakingly plan how to move 90 people (and their luggage!) from three nights in Prague to two nights in Vienna, which is not an easy feat. But with the right partnership of hotels and suppliers it can go off without a hitch and be a huge success.

Yet there are always elements out of our control such as weather or a migration of refugees through Europe. Currently I am dealing with the latter. While my heart goes out to the refugees, my ultimate concern at the moment has to be for the care and safety of my attendees. Fortunately our program moves south from Prague to Vienna, against the flow of the migration.  We are on a privately chartered train that ends at a local train station just outside Vienna and will not be arriving in a large international station flooded with refugees and heightened emotions.

My local partners have assured me that all is calm in the Vienna city center and from what I see on the news; there is nothing to contradict those statements. But I have to be proactive and plan for contingencies, first of which is concerning myself with attendees post-extending in Germany. At this moment the German borders are closed preventing train travel between Austria and Germany.  Therefore we have had to assist a few attendees in booking flights to their next destination. I am also prepared to add security in Vienna should the situation change for the worse.

While many of you only see the glamorous side of this business, there are very real realities we have to deal with that we could have never anticipated months ago. Instead, we have to be a buttoned up with the details we can control so if a situation does arise, we are ready to jump into action.

We have three more days until we travel to Vienna and are moving forward as planned. But as I sit here at 1:45 AM (thank you jet lag) watching the BBC World News, I am monitoring and planning for the unexpected.

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Written by Laurel Axelrod

The Importance of On-Site Staff to Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel – Part Three

Today concludes our informative three part series on The Importance of On-Site Staff to Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel. If you have not already, take a moment to read Part One and Part Two. In today’s final piece we cover the qualities to look for in a capable on-site staff member.

JNR is committed to delivering phenomenal business meetings, corporate events and incentive travel programs every time. A large part of ensuring that we deliver on this is making sure we have the right people for the job. We employ on-site expert Travel Directors that we like to call your “insurance policy.” They make sure the event runs smoothly, keep costs in check and they send participants and clients home happy. A solid team of on-site logistical staff is crucial to any event’s success.

When hiring on-site staff members, JNR looks for certain attributes, skills and qualities in a potential employee. These are often elements that cannot be taught.

Hardworking

On-site staff members must be disciplined enough to work incredibly hard. They are the first to rise and the last to rest. They have an array of intricate tasks that must be completed before participants arrive, seemingly impossible tasks while the event is running, respond to individual needs as well as the entire group’s needs, and, as participants are heading home, they stay to make sure everyone has checked out, have rides to the airport, and arrange for any outgoing shipments. Amidst it all, they make sure all billing notes are in order.

Responsive

The first thing you learn on-site is that things change. Our expert Travel Directors expect that there are factors that are out of their control and that they must remain flexible and on their toes in order to keep the event on track. Whether it is a travel delay, inclement weather or a key item that will not be delivered on time, they work on finding solutions rather than getting stuck on problems. They also keenly anticipate complications arising before they actually happen and prepare accordingly. This is fondly referred to as avoiding Murphy. When factors do not go as planned, most of the time, they are solved so efficiently that participants remain blissfully unaware.

Teamwork

On-site staff members are given key responsibilities and are empowered to jump in where needed to help other staff members. While they work in their own specialty areas, they know that at the end of the day the program as a whole is the big picture and that they need to work together for it to be successful – no task is solely one person’s duty. Members of the on-site team know what each other are working on and come together to help with all things from finishing touches to more complicated elements.

Positive Attitude

On-site experts work grueling hours, have multiple jobs on their plates at once and respond to client and participant requests at any hour of the day – all with a smile on their face. Even if an event throws curve ball after curve ball, having the right attitude with a passion for delivering their best can be the difference between an average event and an incredible event. Our on-site staff members see the big picture and work diligently towards that rather than getting stuck on components that do not go as planned.

Ability to Understand the Client’s Objectives

Travel Directors must be fully aware and understand the client’s objectives to deliver a successful meeting, event or travel program. Once goals and objectives have been explained to on-site staff members, they know what elements will deliver on these goals. They are conscientious of how to use their skill sets to direct a meeting, event or travel program in the direction the client wants.

Communication and Negotiation Skills

At any one time, Travel Directors will be in communication and negotiation with multiple parties. They rely on third parties to deliver exactly what is expected of them and must therefore communicate what is needed in an efficient manner. They use their strong negotiation skills to get the best outcomes and value for the client, all while keeping a positive relationship with the vendor for future programs.

Communication with participants can truly enhance the program. We often hear that our client was impressed with our team, how nice it was that participants knew the on-site staff members by name and how wonderfully they were treated.

 

On-site staff members are unique individuals that are driven to deliver above what is expected of them. With a trained eye and a thorough understanding of “back-of-the-house” operations, our experienced on-site travel management professionals direct the logistics of your event, leaving you free to attend to VIP’s, participants and the actual program content. You can focus on just one thing… your business.

 

To find out how JNR can help orchestrate an amazing meeting, event or incentive travel program, please call us on 949.476.2788 or email us at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com. We would love to work with you on your next program.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas with insights from LuAnn Jalet, Chief Operating Officer at JNR.

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “The Standard – Cooper Square” by Susan Sermoneta is licensed under CC By 2.0