Helping clients get through difficult situations is all in a typical workday for Michael Beagelman, CEO of MB Private Clients in London.
Whether it's dealing with damages to a hotel room inflicted by an intoxicated member of a rock band's traveling party or something far more serious like assisting a client in the middle of a terrorist attack, lending a critical hand in a client's time of need has become second nature to Beagelman.
"Communication with each other is the key," Beagelman said. "Often, we don't communicate with people, and because we don't communicate with people, we have problems. So the best way to solve the problems is to communicate with each other."
Beagelman's career in travel began over 50 years ago in his father, Jack's, family travel business in Central London. The Beagelmans were very hands-on as agents, providing a high level of service that attracted a high-end clientele.
One day, an employee of the Robert Stigwood Organization walked into his office to buy a number of first-class train tickets. Stigwood was a music entrepreneur and film producer who also produced theatrical productions like "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Hair." His company promoted the likes of David Bowie and Mick Jagger.
The employee returned several times to buy tickets from Beagelman, and the two became friendly. Beagelman broke into the world of music travel, and over the years, he handled travel arrangements for bands like Pink Floyd and AC/DC. That at least partially accounts for his ability to remain calm in situations he would face later in life.
In music, he said, "Everything is last minute. Everything is panic. Everything is a disaster."
And those disasters often led to some creative problem-solving by Beagelman, like when an intoxicated member of pianist Keith Emerson's traveling party crashed through a hotel suite's door with a fire extinguisher. He launched the extinguisher at the band but missed, sending it flying through a plate glass window.
In stepped Beagelman, who convinced the hotel's manager not to have the band arrested (and invited him to the concert).
Working in the music industry as an agent also taught Beagelman a lot about security and booking complex itineraries around the world. It also helped him expand his network and business.
"Security and music, they're always entwined, so I became, really, an international expert for people who had problems when they travel," he said.
Over the years, Beagelman picked up a wide variety of clients in the entertainment, sports and corporate worlds. He's dealt with a number of situations, from the quirky -- like the client who only travels with her two Siamese cats -- to the scary.
International lawyer Robert Amsterdam's ordeal in Russia definitely falls into the latter category. So does Beagelman's client who was in the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai when it was attacked by terrorists in 2008.
She was a high-end corporate client who was on her honeymoon, Beagelman said. He got the call that terrorists were shooting hotel guests in the evening and immediately got to work.
"You've got to have the temperament to be cool and then calm to the people you're dealing with, and then know what the options are," he said.
He got his client's and her husband's names to British government officials on the ground in Mumbai and told the authorities where they were. The whole time, he stayed in touch with her via text message. Eventually, Indian soldiers got her and her husband out, and Beagelman got them to the airport and safely out of Mumbai.
Beagelman attributes his ability to deal with high-pressure situations like that to his level of experience and ability to stay calm and collected, which he picked up working with musicians (the fact that he boxes recreationally twice a week helps on that front, too). It also comes down to knowing how to reach the right people in any given situation.
His son, Joshua, a partner at MB Private Clients, said his father has established strong relationships over the years and is good with people.
"Michael has a very unique gift: He's able to speak to people and, within a minute, can make them feel comfortable," Joshua Beagelman said. "I think that's a very important gift."
"I've been through a lot of things," Michael Beagelman said. "I often say there's probably five or six people alive today [that], if I wasn't born, wouldn't be here, so at least I did something. You're sort of ... almost like a silent knight. You do all these wonderful things, maybe, but nobody really knows who did it, and that's probably the best way. So you keep cool. It's just the way it is: lack of fear, I suppose. And experience."
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