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Why relationships in the travel world matter

Why is the team at One Ocean Expeditions toasting us - and you? Read on to find out!

Relationships nurtured over many years matter. Especially in the travel business when problems do spring up out of nowhere and need to be solved.

More than a decade ago two of our guests returned from a lovely stopover in The Netherlands. But they had visited Amsterdam and mentioned how much garbage was strewn about the city. I was surprised to hear it. Graffiti, yes. But Amsterdam had never struck me as a filthy town.

At the time, my second cousin happened to be vice-mayor of Amsterdam, so I got in touch with her and I was able to get the reason behind the trash: Amsterdam's garbage collectors had gone on strike.

I told my clients how I found out and needless to say they were impressed I knew people in high places.

I still tell this story as dinner conversation.

But when relationships really matter is when certain unmentionable stuff starts hitting the fan. Like in May of 2019.

That month these same clients were on the receiving end of the cancellation of their cruise which was to take place in August. They were booked on an Arctic expedition cruise aboard the Akademik Ioffe, a ship owned by an entity of the Russian Government. The ship was originally built as a spy vessel but had been decommissioned with the break-up of the Soviet Union. Intrepid polar exploration companies saw their chance and leased the ship for passenger service.

Until this May, when the Russian shipowners withdrew their ships overnight from passenger service, long-term leasing contracts be damned. The leasing cruise operator, Squamish-based One Ocean Expeditions, was suddenly left with one ship (out of a fleet of three).

To re-accommodate affected clients, One Ocean had given us an alternative cruise but despite us booking it within a few hours of being notified, the cruise was already sold out.

And this is where personal connections come in.

I got on the phone with one of the managers of the cruise company, a friend I knew through previous employment and who had been over to our house for a visit. I explained the situation. He went to work and we had the clients on board within a few hours.

And that is not the end of the story. Like a good marriage, travel industry relationships take time to build and energy to nurture. And I could only imagine what stress the entire team at One Ocean Expeditions had been through - dealing with irate clients and agents, working long hours to get everyone re-booked...

And so I decided to buy the entire team drinks.

What made my day were all the emails I received from the One Ocean team. Here is a selection:

"Oh wow- you are just the absolute nicest human being on this planet!!!! I can’t thank you enough!!!! That is SO generous of you!!!! I seriously cannot thank you enough! It’s so refreshing to have someone who is just so wonderful like you!!!!! "

"You are so kind, thank you for encouraging us all today 😊 Very much appreciated!!!!!!!"

"It’s been a helluva challenge for all involved, including partners like yourself and those passengers affected. That said, it takes the support of a true partner to get through these difficult times and to work with us to find the best solution for the clients. Organizing drinks for the office was a real class act. Thank you. The timing was perfect and it really picked up the team moral around here."

"Your thoughtfulness and ‘won’t take no’ for an answer on Friday re: drinks and a morale boost, were so highly appreciated it warmed my heart unlike anything I have experienced yet. Thank you. Truly. Our team gathered to celebrate some birthdays amidst the craziness of all these re-bookings and adjusted voyages, and you were at the centre of it. Wish you could have been here."

So there you have it - relationships built up over many years in the travel business matter. And it is why I appreciate each and everyone of you, my loyal travellers! Many of you have been with us since the beginning, over two decades ago. So the cheer you see in the accompanying photo, goes out to you too!

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