Travel Agents Are Teammates When Times Are Tough; Sabre Salutes Travel Agents for Dedication to Customer Service During Recent Hurricanes

SOUTHLAKE, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct. 3, 2005–Sabre Travel Network today saluted travel agents for their unparalleled efforts in customer service and providing a personal connection for travelers during the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes. When an emergency strikes — when travelers need special time, attention and human care — traditional travel agents are only a phone call away — even when they’ve been impacted by the crisis themselves.

TravelCorp International

Scott Evans, president of TravelCorp International, a World Travel Partners (WTP) affiliate, and his staff of 18 evacuated their New Orleans office on Friday night, August 26.

Even as the TravelCorp staff left their homes and listened to the news of levees breaking, flooding and widespread destruction, they made plans and took steps to continue serving their customers and running their business.

Melissa Deffet, director of administration and finance at TravelCorp, was in New Orleans at the time and evacuated to Houston with the team. Deffet immediately became the TravelCorp ground coordinator in charge of technology connectivity, communications and administration. Customers received emails that the agency was up-and-running, and the company Website was updated with new contact information. When customers asked what they could do to help, they were asked to keep booking travel and doing business with TravelCorp. And they responded. Business is brisk, and clients have made assurances they’ll be working with the agency for the long term as a result of the personal connection they received during their time of crisis.

“We’re an eight-cylinder car working on seven cylinders today,” said Evans, one week after the storm made landfall. “But we intend to not only maintain our business, but look for new growth opportunities in upcoming days and weeks. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of WTP and other external partners and friends like Sabre, and the great spirit and efforts of our entire staff.”

As Hurricane Rita approached, some TravelCorp employees evacuated Houston while others remained in the city to ride out the storm. In the end, Houston was spared as Rita made landfall farther up the Gulf Coast than originally expected.

TQ3Navigant — Marine and Oilfield Services Division

Before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, TQ3Navigant’s Marine and Oilfield Services division began action on previously developed contingency plans, moving thousands of petroleum workers from rigs and refineries in the Gulf of Mexico to safer locations.

“When you are used to hearing a voice, and knowing a person, there’s no replacement for that when you need it most,” said Judy (“JP”) Peplinski, director of TQ3Navigant’s Marine and Oilfield Services division. “That’s part of the value we bring. Our clients know that if a hurricane is bearing down on their location, we’re on the job, and we’re on it for them.”

But when Katrina hit, it did more than throw off the clients’ operations – it destroyed TQ3Navigant offices in New Orleans. Without offices, and some agents homeless, it was more challenging than ever to provide clients with a personal touch. Some of the displaced agents evacuated to the Houston office and relatives’ homes where they were able to serve their customers remotely. And when some agents landed in locations with no computer at all, the agency shipped laptops overnight loaded with Sabre software.

“Our dedicated teams and personal interaction make it possible,” Peplinski said. “As Katrina approached, we worked directly with clients to evacuate the rigs Saturday. Monday and Tuesday, we were already moving teams back out to rigs and ensuring accommodations for those displaced by the storm. Personal touch was extremely important during this operation. To be able to pick up the phone and call someone who is personally involved in your travel, that’s just invaluable. You don’t get that without a travel agent.”

Before Hurricane Rita veered from its projected course, which was directly at Houston and TQ3Navigant’s offices there, Peplinski and a team of 11 evacuated to TQ3Navigant’s Chicago office. There they operated a specialized 24/7 support desk to manage global oil and gas clients remotely during the evacuation and storm period to provide seamless service, support and reporting until threats from Rita had subsided.

Chris Kroeger, senior vice president of Sabre Travel Network, North America, said, “We at Sabre Travel Network would like to salute these customers for their outstanding service in the midst of challenging circumstances. Travel agents provide a value that goes beyond booking and information sharing. When anticipating and dealing with a natural disaster that affects so many people and so many travelers, like a hurricane, travel agents are an invaluable teammate. Whether corporate or leisure, air or cruise travel, the traveler has another human being in their corner, and that’s a powerful force.”

About Sabre Travel Network

Sabre Travel Network, a Sabre Holdings company, provides access to the world’s leading global distribution system (GDS) enabling agents at more than 50,000 agency locations worldwide to be travel experts. The Sabre GDS, the first system to connect the buyers and sellers of travel, today includes more than 400 airlines, approximately 60,000 hotels, 37 car rental companies, nine cruise lines, 35 railroads and 220 tour operators. Key brands of Sabre Travel Network include GetThere, the leading Web-based corporate travel reservation technology, and Jurni Network, the unique leisure travel agency consortium that enables members to sell more products from preferred travel suppliers using sophisticated market intelligence.

Sabre Holdings Corporation (NYSE:TSG) is a world leader in travel commerce, retailing travel products and providing distribution and technology solutions for the travel industry. More information about Sabre Holdings is available at

Sabre Travel Network, the Sabre Travel Network logo, Jurni Network and GetThere are trademarks and/or service marks of an affiliate of Sabre Holdings Corporation. All other trademarks, service marks, and trade names are the property of their respective owners.

    CONTACT: Sabre Holdings Corporation, Southlake
             Media Contact:
             Nanci Williams, 682-605-2271

    SOURCE: Sabre Holdings Corporation