TQ3's agents up to the task of keeping clients moving during crisis

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HOUSTON -- Its been an extremely challenging week for Judy Peblinski.

Based in Houston, Peblinski, or J.P., is director of TQ3Navigants oil and gas and marine services division, a business travel unit within Navigant that specializes in moving people in the energy industry.

At a time of crisis like that of Hurricane Katrina, Peblinskis agents are among the ones in the trenches who help keep things moving, and even save lives.

Peblinskis operation moves thousands of people all over the world, between and among Indonesia, Brazil, West Africa and other points, including locations where no one in their right mind would go except theres oil there, she said.

Its a huge operation with complicated logistics and very high stakes. But at the root of it, Peblinski is a travel agent, and shes proud that her clients can always pick up the phone and talk to their agents.

If youre used to a full-service agency, to hearing Jackies or Bobs voice, the dedicated teams that handle your account, that has value to these clients who do this type of business, she said.

Full service, in Peblinskis division, includes emergency management. We have contingency plans, emergency response drills we go through, such as What if theres a coup in Gabon? We have dedicated teams for large clients moving masses of people. Were able to react very quickly to emergencies.

When Hurricane Katrina was approaching the Gulf coast, JPs team went into emergency-response mode to evacuate thousands of people from oil rigs and area offices. In many cases, the workers could not go home, so the agency went to work to accommodate them.

We pulled our emergency response teams together, working in tandem with clients, using Sabre to pull down reports about who would be affected and who we would have to move, she said. We had everyone evacuated off the rigs Saturday.

After the storm, the team shifted modes and began to move utility workers into New Orleans to start the long task of restoring power to the area. At the same time, they helped accommodate people who were left homeless after the hurricane passed, and also went to work moving people back to the oil rigs to restore the flow of oil.

You can imagine from our perspective how important it is to be proactive, to get everyone back to work because it affects everything, said Peblinksi. Look at the stock market.

They also had to move people to check on the status of refineries and chemical plants along the gulf.

The whole region outside New Orleans and Biloxi is a corridor of major oil companies that have oil refineries or plants, said Peblinski. We had to get personnel back into those regions as soon as possible to re-establish power. We also work for the utility companies. Part of the urgency and the value we can bring through technology and services is that we can help them get into those areas quickly after the fact.

This week it was all much more complicated than usual. We were chartering planes, she said. You can imagine what a challenge it is just to find rental cars. Its one thing to fly [the clients] in, another to get cars. Ive been doing this type of travel for 25 years, and Ive never seen anything of this magnitude.

Navigant services its clients from various offices throughout the region, as well as with home-based agents. The offices in New Orleans were shut down, but the agents were able to conduct business as usual from Houston using Sabre remote-access technology, which allows them to gain remote access from anywhere they can get an Internet connection.

On Monday, we shipped laptops by Fed Ex to our agents who were displaced so they could continue to operate without missing a beat, said Peblinski.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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