Behind the Scenes: ECRM’s Travel Team 2/5/2017
Retail buyers’ lives are busy enough, and while travel is a necessary part of their responsibilities, when inclement weather gets in the way, it can wreak havoc with their schedules, resulting in delayed and canceled flights, and even worse -- missed appointments.
That’s not the case when it comes to ECRM’s EPPS meetings, however. As part of our process, we provide a turnkey in-house travel service for buyers to ensure that they make it on time to their pre-scheduled appointments, and if they are delayed, we’ll adjust their schedule so that there are no missed opportunities.
This past January was a case-in-point. Winter Storm Helena made its way along the East Coast, dropping heavy snow from Virginia to southeast Massachusetts January 6 and 7, resulting in hundreds of flight cancellations and thousands of delays. ECRM had two EPPS meetings scheduled to begin January 8, each on the East Coast: The Retail Pharmacy - Branded Rx & Vaccine EPPS, at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and its Vitamin, Diet & Sports Nutrition EPPS, Hilton Head Island, SC.
ECRM Travel Agents Tracey Barrett and Christopher DeJesus, who book travel for all buyers attending ECRM EPPS meetings, worked closely with the buyer attendees to ensure that they not only made it to their destinations, but that they made all their meetings as well. “We rescheduled more than 75 buyers who had their flights cancelled,” says Barrett. “We either offered new tickets on other airlines, or new flights out later that day. We also offered alternative airports if they could get to another nearby city. Whatever it took to get them to their meetings.”
Here are comments from two attending buyers, detailing their experiences:
Stacey Waweru, Manager, Manufacturer and Industry Relations, Cardinal Health
I received an alert at 8 pm on Saturday night that our flight through Charlotte the next day had been cancelled. I emailed Tracey to see what steps I needed to take to get another flight. Within minutes she replied and got us on a new flight. Unfortunately, that flight was so delayed we would not have made our connection. Once again Tracey was on it within minutes and got us yet another flight. Fortunately, third time was the charm and we were able to make it in on Sunday night prior to all our meetings on Monday morning.
Tracey also helped us get home earlier. Our meetings schedule changed and we ended earlier than originally expected. Tracey was able to help us book flights to get home at 6 pm instead of 10 pm. It meant I got to put my one year old to bed, which meant the world to me. People like her are truly what help to make the ECRM meetings such a success.
John Hickman, Pharmacy Marketing Business Development Manager - At Home Diagnostics and Professional Services, H-E-B
My flights did not go as planned for ECRM Brand Rx and Vaccines. My flight out of San Antonio was delayed and I missed the DFW to JAX flight. It looked like I was going to miss all my Sunday meetings and I told Tracey I would entertain any solution that allowed me to arrive ASAP. Tracey quickly provided solutions A, B, C, and D. She arranged for me to fly into Orlando and then booked a rental car I was able to drive to the conference. On top of this, she made reservations with two rental car agencies so that if one was jammed I could go with the other. Amazing service and hospitality!
She is always quick to respond and provides multiple solutions when the weather, airlines, etc. are not cooperating. I would imagine this would be very stressful for Tracey but you would never know it when speaking with her. She is always friendly and professional. I can’t say enough great things about her.
ECRM’s Travel staff is part of several teams that work behind the scenes in our efforts to connect buyers and sellers of food, CPG and other product categories. They work one-on-one with each buyer, emailing them several options for travel according to their airline and seat preferences. All of this information is kept on file, including any rewards program information, so that it’s automatically taken into account on future trips.
Both Tracey and Chris are always on call during EPPS meetings (each buyer gets their cell-phone numbers), and in the event of any delays or last-minute travel issues, are in close communication with the ECRM teams on site to adjust meeting schedules, hotel stays, and car service pickup times from the airport to ensure that the buyers don’t miss a beat.
As a result, buyers spend less time worrying about travel, and more time focusing on what they do best – sourcing new innovative products that will differentiate their businesses!