This crazy, unpredictable travel business that we love has so many moving parts.
And as my mother would say, “Someone threw a monkey wrench into our plans.” I’m not really sure why the poor, old monkey wrench gets blamed, but this time it was a big wrench and that someone was Irma.
We were booked and Good to Go to the Golden Isles. The motorcoach was to depart last Friday on Sept. 15.
Then Hurricane Irma cast her ugly eye on the coasts of Georgia and Florida, where we were headed. We all watched in horror as the storm changed paths, conditions sometimes improved and sometimes worsened. It didn’t make sense to cancel the tour until we knew exactly the situation. We too, rode out the storm albeit from the safety of Oklahoma.
Two days before departure, we had enough solid information to know we had to, sadly, cancel the trip. The local authorities weren’t even allowing the local residents back to their homes. There was no reason for us to add to the confusion, plus the tour we planned won’t happen for a while as they recover.
The good news is we work with other professionals who care about our business.
As mentioned, it’s so much more than travelers; it is motorcoaches, hotels, restaurants, attractions, guides, plus a few dozen more parts that get “monkey wrenched” when weather and natural disasters occur.
We encourage travelers to protect their fun funds with travel insurance which covers cancellations and interruptions. But in the bigger picture (and you can ask your insurance person if I’m right), the insurance would rather not pay. They would rather the trip go on as planned.
In my conversations with Gulf Coast folks that are just crawling out to see if they still have a business to provide a service, it seems that to regroup our trip is one tiny way that we can help those folks.
We aren’t blaming anyone, we are saying, hey, we still want to come your way and support tourism. We aren’t exactly sure when that may happen now, but we plan to make it there.
Maybe it’s a small thing, but we it’s worth thinking about. Living in an area that counts on tourism, we understand what a rainy weekend or blue-green algae will do to our economy.
We’ve watched the gasoline prices fluctuate as a result of the storms. There will be many things connected to the damage whether it’s the cost of orange juice or a small company that you’ve used for Christmas cards that you learn is no longer in Texas. The effects are far reaching.
Did you know a hurricane closed down an Oklahoma cheese factory? It was categorized as Tropical Storm Erin, but it brought 80-mile-an-hour winds and 9 to 11 inches of rain to Watonga.
It tore off the Watonga Cheese Factory’s roof and twisted the building’s foundation and cinderblock walls. The insurance company condemned the building, along with its inventory of 7,000 pounds of cheese.
Yes, you can still buy Watonga Cheese and they still have a cheese festival, but the owners were given the incentive to rebuild and move the plant. Watonga Cheese is made in Perryton, Texas.
Our discomfort was so minor compared to so many, but there was a storm to ride out, and we did.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or email@example.com.