A satellite image of a storm system that wreaked havoc in parts of the Midwest. (NY Times/NASA) With today’s technology, who needs travel agents?  Most trips can easily be planned with a trip to the Internet and a few clicks of a mouse.  You lay out your plan, choose your flights, and off you go.  Right?

That was basically my thinking.  Oh, I would call a travel agent if I had a big trip planned – you know the complex ones around the world or to a foreign land.  But for those short hops from Phoenix to NY or Dallas, or Chicago, my easy to use frequent flyer sites had all the resources I needed – or so I thought. 

And that’s how my story begins. 

Earlier this year, I was planning a trip to China to go to the Canton Fair.  My trip would take me to Shanghai and Beijing not to mention a number of other cities on the mainland.  That was not a trip I wanted to tackle alone.  So, on the recommendation of my friend John Peters at Rand McNally, I decided to try out Tripology and work with a travel specialist.  It was so easy and in less than an hour I was chatting with a friendly expert who lined everything up for me late on a Friday night well after “business” hours.  Cynthia Hayes, the owner at Hayes Executive Travel Services, Inc.,  was super helpful.  I felt badly later when my trip had to be canceled after she had worked so hard. To make it up to her, I promised Cynthia that I would be calling her again.

Fast forward a few weeks and it was time to hit the road again.  This time I was planning to visit John and the team at Rand McNally in Chicago.  We had set the date for dinner on Tuesday October 26, 2010 and another meeting the next day on October 27th.  It was just a quick trip to Chicago, but I remembered my promise and called Cynthia instead  of booking my travel myself.  Little was I to know what a smart promise that was to keep.

On the Road to Rand McNally…

Tuesday dawned bright and sunny here in Phoenix and at 6AM I headed off to Phoenix Sky Harbor for my 7:45 flight to O’Hare.  I checked in online with USAIR and grabbed my carry on – it was only one night after all. 

At the airport, I stopped at the kiosk to see if I could change my seat.  HMMM – the kiosk can’t find my reservation?  Since I already had a boarding pass, I went through security and checked in  with the team at the gate only to learn that my flight to Chicago had been CANCELLED!

*****NEWS FLASH****

imageTravelers flying out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport are continuing to experience delays to the continuing high winds…

About 500 flights were canceled and others delayed at O’Hare Airport on Tuesday.

A massive storm blew across Illinois, part of a massive system that made its way across the nation’s midsection and on Wednesday raked the east coast.

(Source:  Chicago AP –  Image from Chicago Weather Center Blog)

Back to Our Story…

As I stepped up to the counter, the gate agent was trying to find a way to re-route a plane full of passengers.  The man in front of me just shook his head as the gate agent suggested he re-book for tomorrow.  Then it was my turn.  I handed her my ticket with a smile and crossed my fingers. 

“Hello Ms Koerber-Walker” she said.  “I see your travel agent has already taken care of this.  You have been re-booked on American Airlines.  You will need to go down stairs to be re-ticketed, just take this slip.  Your flight is scheduled to leave in an about an hour.”  

As I made my way down stairs, I called Cynthia in Dallas.  image

“You are the best!” I shared with her.  “Everyone is scrambling here and I was all taken care of.  Now all I have to do is change the rental car reservation.”

“All taken care of.” She replied.  “Your reservation has been updated there too.  I will keep an eye on things to be sure you don’t get held up and delayed again.”

Six hours later, I was in Chicago.  The American flight was delayed from taking off by the “Ground Stop” at O’Hare but we eventually arrived with nary a bump along the way.  When I got in, my car was waiting. I went straight to my meeting and then after dinner, the hotel was ready for me too.  www.hayesexecutivetravel.com

Just because you can, does not mean you should…

So here is the moral of the story.  I might be relatively tech savvy and I can go on line to book my tickets, my car, and my hotel but just because I can does not mean I should. 

I tell the people I work with that when it is important, it is important to rely on experts.  And from now on when I travel, I will follow my own advice.   So get ready, Cynthia.  I’ll be calling you again.


Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


P.S.  When your trip is important, call a travel expert, or better yet, call mine.  She not only got me a great rate on my travel – she got me to my destination and smoothed out the bumps along the way.  By her doing what she does best, I could focus on doing what I do best.

Cynthia Hayes, Owner / Personal Travel Consultant
1700 Commerce St., Suite 830
Dallas, TX 75201
Office: 214-570-9090 Fax : 214-570-9092
Website- www.hayesexecutivetravel.com


FTC Disclaimer:  For the record, I do not work for nor have I received compensation from Cynthia Hayes of Hayes Executive Travel (unless you count being on the receiving end of really great service.)   While companies that I own do business with Rand McNally, in this case, the compensation received was really good advice.