Beyond Grateful: Houston-Based Travel Agent Finds Her Way Post Hurricane Harvey

by Jessica Montevago
Beyond Grateful: Houston-Based Travel Agent Finds Her Way Post Hurricane Harvey

Photo: Shutterstock.com


“It seemed as though Hurricane Harvey came out of nowhere, and truthfully, I wasn’t prepared.”

Like many in the greater Houston area, Brownell Travel’s Blaire Kochar wasn’t ready for what Hurricane Harvey was going to bring when it made landfall in her hometown of Houston last week.

As the storm approached, Kochar prepared for a run-of-the-mill hurricane season storm. She did what she always had done—hunkered down in her home with non-perishable food items, stocked up on bottles of water and located the flashlights.

“Being born and raised in Houston, I am very used to inclement weather…I figured Houston would get a decent amount of rain and then dry up a couple of days later,” she told TMR.

Harvey had different plans. It ended up being the biggest rainstorm in the recorded history of the continental United States, dumping more than 50 inches of rain on Houston over four days and flooding the city’s roads and runways.

“I’ve never seen this much devastation in my life,” Kochar told TMR. “People are being rescued from their flooded houses with absolutely nothing from different neighborhoods all over Houston. The catastrophic damage has been felt by so many.”

Kochar says she’s one of the lucky ones; her house and cars were left without water damage. Her street also wasn’t flooded, though the surrounding streets were, making it impossible for her and her husband to go anywhere.  

Working through it all
As a home-based agent, Kochar said she was fortunate “my office did not have to be uprooted and my work has not been interrupted.”

“I have never been more thankful of my affiliation with Brownell. To prepare for the flood, I was able to tell my support group at Brownell of my trips leaving soon and prepare them to take over these itineraries in case I lost power,” she said.

She had five sets of clients leaving on trips with flights all originating out of Houston, from Aug. 25 to Aug. 30.

A few decided to postpone their trips. One client who was scheduled to leave Houston Aug. 30, push it back a few days and will pick up their itinerary in London on Sept. 5. Another also took precautionary measures to delay their 15th Anniversary Trip to Cinque Terre and Florence, Italy by a month and a half.

“My partners were able to communicate with all suppliers in a timely manner and push back the exact itinerary to future dates in October. [They] understood the dire situation in Houston and helped to reorganize my clients’ dream trip at such short notice,” she said.

After some of her clients had their return flight from Costa Rica to Houston canceled, and they didn’t have the financial means to stay an unexpected five days, Kochar was able to negotiate with a Virtuoso property to get a discounted rate for the remainder of their stay.

“My teammates at Brownell have also constantly checked in with me to make sure my family and I are ok. Their support, not just as it relates to work, has shown me how extremely and genuinely gracious and caring this organization is. I feel beyond grateful to be affiliated with this incredible group.”

In the aftermath of Harvey, Kochar says she and her husband are helping their neighbors who lost everything by starting by donating clothes to the George R Brown Convention Center, which is housing more than 10,000 people who have been displaced by the hurricane.

Anyone who wants to donate can donate to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund here.  

  1
  0
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Most Useful Twitter Accounts for Travel Agents

1. AskTSA

2. FlightRadar24

3. Department of State

4. CLIA Global

5. ASTA

Source: TMR

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=dd7f092d-7dff-e711-80eb-782bcb667b27

What's Their 'Why'? Connect Your Clients to Their Passion for Travel

The unique reasons that inspire people to travel are the foundation of travel fulfillment, and more sales for travel agents.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Travel Agents Test Drive Royal Caribbean Online Personality Quiz
Travel Agents Test Drive Royal Caribbean Online Personality Quiz

A new tool to help match clients with ships and itineraries to their personality traits raises the question of how agents do the same without a computer.

What Does the New State Department Risk-Rank System Mean to Travel Agents?
What Does the New State Department Risk-Rank System Mean to Travel Agents?

Travel advisors must look beyond the color codes to see the complete facts in advising clients about risks of travel.

How Instagram Delivers a Client Every Other Day to One New Travel Agency
How Instagram Delivers a Client Every Other Day to One New Travel Agency

After just 18 months in business, 29-year-old Heather Christopher is closing out 2017 with sales of almost $700,000. And it’s all thanks to two friends she met on social media.

Travel Professionals International Appoints Zeina Gedeon CEO
Travel Professionals International Appoints Zeina Gedeon CEO

The longtime travel industry executive had previously served as the president and CEO of Air Canada Vacations.

Millennial Travelers Prefer Hotels Over Airbnb Rentals, Study Says
Millennial Travelers Prefer Hotels Over Airbnb Rentals, Study Says

Travel agents also edged out Airbnb as a preferred booking method of younger travelers.

The Ultimate Guide to Tipping While Traveling
The Ultimate Guide to Tipping While Traveling

Whom to tip, when, and how much? Rich Thomaselli gives some guidelines that travel advisors can pass along to their clients.

News Briefs
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Scenic Cruises