A Message from Dean Sivley, Travel Guard North America CEO



    As I approach my first anniversary as president and CEO of Travel Guard, it seemed an appropriate time to review some of the many milestones of the past year, and more importantly look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead. Certainly 2009 was a year of particular challenges that have been well documented throughout the U.S. travel industry. For many, 2009 was also a year that reminded us of important lessons that we’ve learned through the ups and downs of the past decade. Recently Geoff Colvin, a Fortune Magazine columnist, wrote a column that asked the question, "What makes most-admired companies different?"

    The answer, it turned out, is quite simple, Colvin writes "It turns out that this year's leaders -- the industry champs that really did come through the recession on top, differ from the stragglers in at least one way: They actually believe what every company proclaims about people being their most valuable asset."

    At Travel Guard, we’ve built our reputation on delivering outstanding customer service to our partners and their clients. Like many successful companies, we believe that our employees are our most important asset. Our “people first” philosophy was certainly put to the test during the economic crisis in late 2008 and throughout 2009. Rather than cut staff and lower our service standards, we made the decision to maintain our staffing levels and continue to view our employees as assets, and not as expenses. Fortunately, our employees tend to be very flexible and adaptable; they are willing to take on new or different assignments as the business climate changes. We temporarily took many of our employees out of their regular jobs and put them on what we call SWAT (Service Wins at Travel Guard) teams. We deployed these teams to areas where we thought we had the best chance to grow our business, even in an economic downturn. As we move into the second quarter of 2010, we’re seeing signs of recovery throughout our business segments. Because we kept our long-term focus on our employee asset and maintained our employee base, we are well positioned to handle the increasing volume of business that we’re now seeing. And more importantly, we are staffed to continue to provide your clients with the astonishing service they’ve come to expect from Travel Guard.

    One of the things that has really struck me over the past few months is the number and magnitude of global occurrences that truly highlight the need for travel insurance and assistance -- the volcanic ash clouds that caused an unprecedented airspace closure, disastrous earthquakes in Haiti and Chili; flooding, winter storms that shut down the Eastern seaboard, and strike authorization votes by numerous airline unions .

    Beyond these anomalies, we are heading into summer travel and hurricane season, and we’re beginning to see the impact of new tarmac delay regulation. And of course, the issue of baggage loss and delay continues to be many travelers’ biggest worry when traveling. What I think is most powerful about Travel Guard’s insurance plans is they empower people to get on the road and travel even when these events keep popping up. That is the core of our “At Travel Guard, Travel Comes First” concept. When you book a client’s trip and bundle with it a 24/7 assistance package, you have the confidence in knowing that your client will be well cared for if they do get stranded in Europe, need help to find alternative transportation if their flight is cancelled after hours, get separated from their baggage or experience any other travel snafu. From the letters I get, I can tell you that the assistance services we provide to your clients are perceived as every bit as valuable as the insurance benefits offered. In fact, during the peak of the volcanic ash cloud situation, our claims were up substantially as expected, but we experienced an even greater increase in the number of assistance calls coming in – up to triple our normal call volume.

    In closing, I want to thank you for contributing to a great and memorable first year. I have spent time around the country meeting our partners and I really enjoy hearing feedback from you. I thought I would close with an excerpt from a recent note from one of our agent partners, as it really sums up why we focus on service, why we are here 24/7 and how these stories can help you in your sales process.

    “I cannot tell you how impressed I was with every agent I spoke to over the last ten days in regard to the Volcano and our displaced clients. I’ve always said that Travel Guard had great staff but I really experienced it firsthand. If Karen hasn’t already shared with you, she and my parents were stranded in Italy for five days after their cruise ended in Venice. It was easier for me to call Travel Guard on their behalf. I almost always got right through to a human being. Hold times were minimal if any at all… I got check up calls from the representatives at Travel Guard making sure I had everything I needed. The representatives were never frazzled, never frustrated, always put me at ease. And they got results. And to top it off, I got a call yesterday from a representative who just wanted to make sure that Karen and my parents made it home safely. Amazing! I don’t know how Travel Guard does it, but they hire the most professional, organized, friendly staff.”

    Warm Regards,

    Dean S. Sivley
    President & CEO
    Travel Guard North America

Travel Guard is one of the nation's leading providers of travel insurance and assistance plans. Comprehensive travel insurance plans through Travel Guard are distributed by more than 12,000 travel companies through virtually every distribution channel in the travel industry.
This plan provides insurance coverage that only applies during the covered trip.
You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home, and automobile insurance policies. If you have any questions about your current coverage, call your insurer or insurance agent or broker. Coverage is offered by Travel Guard Group, Inc (Travel Guard). California lic. no.0B93606, 3300 Business Park Drive, Stevens Point, WI 54482, www.travelguard.com. CA DOI toll free number: 800-927-HELP. This is only a brief description of the coverage(s) available. The Policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. Insurance underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., a Pennsylvania insurance company, with its principal place of business at 175 Water Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10038. It is currently authorized to transact business in all states and the District of Columbia. NAIC No. 19445. Coverage may not be available in all states. Your travel retailer may not be licensed to sell insurance, and cannot answer technical questions about the benefits, exclusions, and conditions of this insurance and cannot evaluate the adequacy of your existing insurance. The purchase of travel insurance is not required in order to purchase any other product or service from the Travel Retailer.

The scenario summarized in this newsletter is offered only as an example. Coverage depends on the actual facts of each case and the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy. Anyone interested in travel insurance plans available through Travel Guard should request a copy of the description of coverage for a description of the scope and limitations of coverage.