A luxe incentive travel program to Rome to recognize and reward almost 500 top performers, who were travelling from all across the U.S.
Two words that strikes fear and frustration in the hearts of all air travellers: lost luggage. It’s bound to happen, especially in a group of this size. According to a 2014 Wall Street Journal article, “Airlines last year mishandled 21.8 million bags, or 6.96 per 1,000 passengers.”
Our group ended up just above the WSJ average, with six unaccounted bags belonging to four different delegates. Two of the delegates, a fun-loving couple from College Station Texas, had checked two large and loaded suitcases each for the five-day program. It was their first time visiting Europe so they treated themselves to a pre-trip shopping spree. For the gala awards dinner they splurged on a haute couture gown for her and a tux for him.
While, Tracey, one of our team members, set the couple up with toiletries, our Destination Management Company (DMC) partner jumped on the phone with the airline to track the bags. Unfortunately, the airline was less than helpful. Despite tracking numbers and detailed descriptions of the bags, we and our DMC literally spent hours in discussions with the airline, including long periods on hold. This continued throughout the first day, and into next morning.
Then, success, in the afternoon of Day 2. Two of the six missing bags arrived, although neither belonged to the Texan couple. Ever the optimists, they kept smiling, appreciating our efforts and their historic surroundings.
On the morning Day 3, they were still wearing their plane clothes so Tracey took them shopping. “They don’t make underwear in my size,” laughed the husband who stood 6 ft. tall and weighed close to 300 lbs. Although his luggage was lost, his humour certainly wasn’t. “I’m not a little Italian stallion. My voice may be an octave higher than normal after I put these things on.”
Tracey and the Texan couple shopped at about five different stores, and had a great time doing it. Says Tracey, “Shopping was fun not at all stressful, thanks to their positive attitudes.”
Finally, on the second to last day, all four of their bulging bags materialized! We had just enough time to dry clean his tux and her gown before the gala awards dinner kicked off.
Says Tracey, “They sought me out that night to thank me, and to extend an invitation to their home in College Station. Knowing that I was an alumni of the local university, Texas A&M, they also offered to take me to an Aggie football game.”
Although the encounter was “brief,” a lasting friendship was forged… all in a day’s work!