Hurricane Sandy Arrives. Tauck Keeps Rolling.
Posted by Robin Tauck
Posted in: Taucks on Tauck
Tags: Tauck Events, Rome, Italy
When “Hurricane Sandy” roared up the Atlantic coast on October 29th, I was in Rome with my husband Peter hosting 180 travelers on our 2012 Roman Holiday Event. The news of impending disaster came as we were enjoying six action-packed days of Renaissance palaces, private operas, newly opened archaeological discoveries, and a private tour and elegant candlelit dinner in the Vatican Museums.
What followed gave me first-hand insight into what it’s like at a global event with Tauck when the unexpected strikes in a very big way. During the 9/11 tragedy, I was in the office coordinating the care of our 8,000 guests that were stranded around the globe. Now, during Sandy, I was one of those stranded. I share new perspective and pride, as I witnessed our Tauck staff in Rome and our home office in Connecticut kick into action.
Global news reported airports closing from Washington DC to Boston for days; some 15,000 flights would be cancelled, internets down and travel agencies without power. Sandy was one of the largest hurricanes ever to strike the East Coast, and New York City was in the eye of this superstorm.
Sandy’s impending landfall created a flurry of activity for us: Several hundred emails, master lists and calls continued hour-after-hour as the lights went out in New York City and Connecticut. Communications were tested to the limit. The crisis was to hit on the exact two departure dates for hundreds of Roman Holiday Event guests and others on our European Riverboats. Our hearts went out to the 50 million people affected in the USA. In Rome, people were very understanding and caring, so reminiscent of 9/11. I felt an odd sense of security and control during an uncontrollable and unknown situation.
At the Excelsior Hotel, our guests turned to the “Tauck Hospitality Desk” past midnight where the “Brian and Brian” duo (Brian Stacey and Brian DiPietro) and the entire Tauck team took action; screening air itineraries and transfers for every guest, and connecting with co-workers back in Connecticut ‘round the clock; scores of air reservations were not even made by Tauck. The service was exemplary. With a smile and “can do” attitude.
One lesson learned from Superstorm Sandy is the importance of insurance, especially Tauck’s Guest and Cruise Protection Plans. No traveler can predict the unexpected, but it is comforting to see the immediate re-routing of air, great hotel rooms and alternate plans go into effect should the best of plans be postponed or curtailed – at no cost and no hassle.
As hard hit as Connecticut was, our headquarters provided a haven during this major storm. Tauck is well prepared with its own battery backup system, diesel generators, and crisis management plans for information technology. As some of the local Connecticut staff was detained with hurricane issues, remote employees located around the country connected into our uninterrupted systems. Tauck’s headquarters worked around the clock to care for those of us who were stranded – once again, saving the day! Now, I saw it from 5,000 miles away and I felt it along with every Tauck traveler.
Our special thanks go to our Tauck Air, IT and our Human Resource teams who were terrific in crisis. Always with a smile. American Express in Rome, is also to be commended for swift rebooks. The General Manager of the Excelsior saved 100 rooms for our guests.
Speaking of being stranded, back in Roma, after spending six glorious days on a truly “insider” VIP Event, need I say how some of our guest felt a little bit guilty enjoying “La Dolce Vita,” for just a few extra days…
From all of us at Tauck, may the people of the New York region recover and rebuild quickly.