Low water in Europe’s rivers often affects river cruises. And while recent rains in Europe have allayed immediate concerns about last-minute changes, it’s an issue that consultants will inevitably have to deal with at some point.
Here’s how Suzy Schreiner, owner of Azure Blue Vacations in Seattle, is turning what could be negative into positive.
“I paid a lot of attention to that, but what I could use it for is additional connections with my customers,” said Schreiner.
It starts well before the trip by mentally preparing you for different scenarios: Is a trip disruption imminent? If there is a break, what does it look like? What happens if there is a complete travel stop? What is the backup plan?
“I’ve found, especially in the last two years, that all sorts of random things come up when you travel,” she said. “People are getting tested positive for Covid or whatever. When I help prepare them for what may be to come, it helps them enjoy their journey more. When they feel like they have a plan, they feel more secure.”
In this way, according to Schreiner, they start the journey with a good feeling and already know the backup plan in the event of an interruption.
Last week she had clients enjoying pre-cruise Italy before boarding an Avalon Waterways ship for a river cruise.
While they enjoyed the land, Schreiner was in active contact with Avalon, inquiring about river gauges and the operations of their ships.
“Then I go back and communicate those things with my clients, little notes on their trip just so they know I’m on the lookout for them,” she said. “I check things for her. So they don’t have to worry about the world, all they know is that Susie is keeping an eye on things for them.”
They also know that Schreiner is there when there is a break.
So far, Schreiner has not had any cancellations for fear of low water-related interruptions, she said.
“But it was a great opportunity for me to prepare clients and really shine with my level of service,” said Schreiner.
A tactic that seems to be working: since the pandemic began, their customer base has steadily grown, mostly through referrals.
“It was the referrals that got my way because my clients felt so taken care of,” she said. “They just felt like they weren’t swimming alone in the deep waters of Covid.”