Most buyers were swift in response to Iceland volcano eruption

8 December 2010

8 December 2010 | Angeline Albert

More than half of travel buyers began crisis management plans the day after Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted.

The Instituteof Travel & Meetings (ITM) surveyed its 195-strong panel of buyers about their response following the large eruption on 14 April.

A total of 85 purchasers responded and 57 per cent of them said they launched crisis management plans on 15 April when British airspace was closed. Eleven per cent began crisis plans the day the volcano erupted, ITM’s study found.

Fifty-six per cent of buyers said airlines relaxed terms and conditions and only a quarter said airlines raised prices in response to the crisis. Forty-one per cent said hotels increased prices, over a quarter said chauffeurs raised costs and 19 per cent said rail companies did the same. Rail companies and sea transport were the most inflexible with their terms and conditions, the study found.

Most of the travel management companies responding to the survey said their crisis management plans worked, accept that the manpower and staff hours required far exceeded expectations.

The report said travellers made a bad situation worse by catching trains, hiring cars and taking taxis without informing their travel managers. As a result, when alternative travel was arranged, travellers could not be found. Some companies have since said they will not reimburse expenses incurred in such circumstances.

“Elementary failings to comply with travel and administrative policies” need to be eliminated, the report said with “clear codes” of travel practice communicated. 

The report said suppliers needed “much better working relationships” with colleagues in other parts of the corporate travel community. For example, train operating companies regularly work with bus firms and airlines have close links with hotels. However, hotels need to build ties with train operators and airlines should work with bus companies, the study said.

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