Every moment matters. This past weekend was particularly busy for the ACIS Duty Officer desk. Three groups had storm-related delays and our team of fixers worked hour by hour to figure out solutions that seemed to change every moment with the snowy conditions. We know it’s never easy to be a Group Leader in these situations. That’s when the caring company culture kicks in at ACIS.
The flights delayed, the airline is dealing with mounting disappointment as people’s plans are being changed by the hour and customer-friendly folks are hard to find. That’s why we have a dedicated group of people here whose job during these difficult moments is to advise, give up-to-the-minute information by working with airlines and our overseas offices, and reassure. Our job is to fix things as fast as possible and keep everyone informed and calm.
It’s bad enough as a single traveler when this stuff happens to you. Imagine it with a group of 25 students hanging out at the airport – perhaps far from their home hub – their parents anxious about the status of the travel plans. It’s not pleasant. Imagine if you are connecting to another city and a year’s worth of plans are quickly looking like they are about to go up in smoke. Departing tonight? Maybe not. How about in three days’ time! Not to mention that students are also a power player in this situation. They are feeding into the scene using their own powerful tools of trade, social media. And who wouldn’t? I recently got stuck on the runway for 6 hours with British Airways and got a bag of chips and a “very sorry,” doing all we can story…I took to Twitter!
Over the weekend we had a group who started in Indianapolis, and then got stuck in Philadelphia for 10 hours. In many situations, this is where things could have gone awry. But before continuing on, the group actually received a new revised itinerary meant to give everything they may have missed and much more. That would not have been possible without a team of people who really cared. People who went well beyond the “sorry, but the airline is responsible, and there is nothing we can do” line. That is when I am most proud of what we do at ACIS, when our unwavering commitment to going above and beyond shines even during difficult situations, that’s The Care Factor.
The Care Factor extends well beyond our team internally. ACIS is lucky to have a strong community of local representatives and teachers who travel with us year over year. Veteran ACIS teacher in Philadelphia, Scott Saks, actually gave up his Sunday to personally accompany this “accidental visiting group” from the airport to his hometown and show them around. Scott, you were our other hero that Sunday. And thanks to our Senior International Program Manager, Jill, who was smart enough to reach out to you. And of course, Laura, Colleen, Ashlee, Katie and our overseas team who worked to revise the itinerary to give the students everything they’d hoped for and more. With the Care Factor rooted in ACIS’ company culture, this extra effort is just “part of the job” for these team members.
And lastly and most importantly, our fearless group leader, Jacob Shively, who ultimately made this happen by being calm and cool. Jacob eventually got to Europe with his group, and we even gave him an extra day on top of his originally planned itinerary. All’s well that ends well.