MEET DIVERSITY TRAVEL
“No two days are the ever the same”. That’s how agents describe working for Diversity Travel. Based in Manchester, UK, the agency specializes in booking journeys for the charity sector and non-government organizations (NGOs). It also operates a student language travel program. The agency has over 120 agents plus a dedicated out-of-hours team. Its Chair is a former Ugandan refugee, who recognized this specific subsector in travel needs different fares, specialist content, and region-specific offers.
A life or death situation
In February 2021, a military coup erupted in Myanmar. The country’s streets — and even private homes — became highly dangerous as deadly violence and clashes took place. For charities working in the country, the priority was to evacuate all staff on the ground, but this was a monumental, volatile, and high-risk challenge.
Jen Herbert, Head of UK Operations at Diversity Travel, told us “This was a life-or-death situation. People were being shot in the streets”.
A route to safety
Diversity Travel is used to sending aid workers to crisis situations, natural disasters, or geopolitical events. But as Jen tells us, evacuating an entire office is much rarer, especially under conditions like these where things are constantly changing.
As the coup unfolded, domestic and international flights were cancelled, and only two repatriation flights took place each week. To make things even more complex, the world was still in various stages of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, directly impacting which countries people could flee to. And, since the teams on the ground were from many different places, each traveler had a unique set of rules and needs.
Cool, calm, and collected
When the call for help came, Diversity answered immediately. Agents there are used to staying calm in a crisis — in fact, it’s a quality the business tests for when hiring new recruits.
The team quickly got to work, using Travelport’s real-time content updates on Smartpoint to get the latest flight information. The challenge was amplified by the need for accurate details for passengers, and, once flights were booked, making sure people could actually make it safely to the airport.
Often, the team said, you’d think got someone out and then something changed. But there was no giving up until every single person had been safely evacuated.
It was all about the traveler safety.
Stu Booy, Customer Service Director, Diversity Travel
THE TOOLS for a successful evacuation
You can only admire and applaud the Diversity Travel team. To be responsible for so many people’s wellbeing — and to effectively plot their route to safety — would be nail-biting for even the most experienced of agents.
In a crisis, having fast, reliable, and straightforward tools can make or break your ability to solve the problem at hand. Travelport is so proud to have played a role by powering their flight search.
Heartfelt messages of thanks
What would have happened if this charity hadn’t had a TMC, and relied on booking direct? The reality is that the people in Myanmar would likely have had to go to their respective country’s foreign embassy and camped out there. If, that is, it hadn’t already been evacuated too.
When it comes to complex trips, the value of travel agencies is even clearer. And the reward for the agent is so much more than the average day at work, it’s getting messages like “I just wanted to let you know, I’m home”.
That, Diversity Travel says, is what makes everything worthwhile.
Travelport absolutely helped make it easier to get people out of danger.
Jen Herbert, Head of UK Operations,