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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Planners Talk Back March 2016

Select Traveler asked these group travel planners “What did you do when something went wrong on a trip?” Here are their responses.


Shellie Andersen, Director of Travel and Business Development at the Alumni Association

Traveling Cyclones, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

“The first trip I hosted before I was the travel director, I had two elderly passengers who were on my trip. I had met them before we got on the flight to Frankfurt. When we landed there to make another connection, they thought we were at our destination, so they headed to claim their luggage.

“When I boarded the final flight, the Lufthansa flight attendant announced their names asking if they were on board. I realized they were my passengers. I then told the flight attendant I was their host. They never made it on the flight, so as soon as I landed, I met our program directors outside and confessed my whole story. They laughed and said the passengers were on their way, and they would pick them up in a limousine. Five years later, I became the travel director.”

Carolyn Cobb, Program Director

Planters Bank Passport 50, Planters Bank, Hopkinsville, Kentucky

“One incident I recall is a lost passport in Ireland. We were well on the road to the next destination when my traveler remembered leaving her passport in her hotel room. Fortunately, it had been discovered by the hotel housekeeping, so the hotel manager was able to overnight it to the next hotel on our itinerary. This is why we stress how important it is to always carry a photocopy of your passport when you travel abroad and to always leave a copy at home as well.”

Lois Bax, Vice President 

Central Bank Classic, Jefferson City, Missouri

“We were traveling back from a Panama Canal cruise and docked in LA. On our way to the airport, I received the dreaded text that all flights to St. Louis were canceled because of ice and snow. My first thought was that we had already toured Los Angeles, so I asked the agent at Southwest Airlines to secure the first leg to Las Vegas and rebook the second leg to St. Louis or Kansas City the following day. Our group of 50 had the best night in Vegas, and then a day later, we continued on to St. Louis. It was a lot of insurance paperwork, but all the guests enjoyed the extension of our trip.”

Daniel Stypa, Associate Director of Alumni Programs

Rice Alumni Traveling Owls, Rice University, Houston, Texas

“During a trip to China with a large group of travelers, we had a variety of medical issues arise for a handful of different travelers. By having established such a great relationship with our tour director and local guides, we were able to assist each traveler and get them the care they needed immediately. If it wasn’t for the attentive service of our ground staff, these unexpected issues could have really disrupted the journey for our 50 plus travelers.”

Diane Baker, Director of Alumni Travel 

Iowa Voyagers, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

“One situation that sticks in my mind is when I spent a solid 90 minutes on the phone with a major airline convincing them to reserve and pay for overnight hotel rooms for our small party of travelers. We found ourselves stranded late at night in an airport, having missed our connecting flight directly due to mishandling by the airline that the airline admitted was their fault. I wasn’t satisfied with the ‘Well, you’re on your own’ answer I initially got from the airline, so I kept on pressing the issue and negotiating with them until I was successful in getting complimentary overnight rooms for my exhausted travelers.”