Foreign Travel

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Foreign Travel

Foreign Travel

Heading the Foreign Travel Division is Walter C. Rundle, an affable gentleman who smokes a pipe and takes a philosophical view of life, which is fortunate for him. In the course of his service with American Express he has travelled more than 1,000,000 miles. Rundle gives the sales offices the tools to work with, so far as foreign travel is concerned. They are sent rules, lists of hotels, schedules and fares on transportation lines, sight-seeing tours, and so forth. These registers, which are sent to all American Express offices, are highly confidential. They are compiled in conjunction with the offices in each country and contain information of every kind that a traveller may desire. With these registers an agent anywhere can plan a tour in any desired country with complete costs. He can also intelligently discuss with a prospective client which hotel in a given city would suit him best, what the specialties of its various restaurants are, what he should see, and how much it will cost him to hire an automobile or go on a sight-seeing bus.

In the case of the cruises or guided tours the itinerary must be worked out in complete detail, checked with the foreign offices, reservations made, and an absolutely accurate schedule of steamship rates, railway fares, hotels, meals, automobiles, and a thousand other expenses com-piled. From this mass of data the office works out a table of the price of the trip with anywhere from ten to a hundred variables, depending on the type of accommodation furnished the traveller and what side trips he desires to take.

But it is when a cruise finally gets under way that the troubles really begin. They fall most heavily on the head of the cruise director. Many of the high officials of American Express have served at one time or another in this capacity, and in each case their experiences have made them wiser and more tolerant men.

Take five hundred people from all over North and South America, load them on a steamer and send them cruising around South Africa, and you have bought yourself five hundred human problems, plus those technical difficulties which inevitably arise in the course of any voyage.

During one pre-war cruise around the world, a certain cruise director had to cope with a civil war in Shanghai; a millionairess who refused to go ashore except at night for fear she might be recognized; and an animal trainer named George Bistani who was collecting exotic fauna and filled the ship's hold with a weird aggregation of birds, boa constrictors, white monkeys, and black panthers. On this same cruise a hotel at Nikko, in the wild mountains of Japan, burned down at night and the tourists who had elected that side trip found themselves homeless except for the hospitality of the hairy mountaineers.

The cruise director also had to rescue a susceptible young playboy from the wiles of a cruising adventuress; play cupid to a British baronet and an American actress; guard the widow of an Australian pearl magnate who carried tin cans full of matched pearls loose in her baggage; quietly settle an attempted murder in Calcutta; protect his charges during the pitched battle with which Hindus and Mohammedans celebrated the Harvest Festival at Agra; reason with a passenger who demanded a refund because he lost a day when the ship crossed the international date line; and hold the hand of a lonely old lady as she lay dying in a hotel in Rome.

Although their groups are a great deal smaller, leaders of conducted tours have their own special problems to struggle with, for they have no sure base and central meeting place such as a ship; and travelling by train and motorbus in foreign countries multiplies the possibilities of mischance.

Special movements consist of organized groups who are going to a particular place for a certain purpose. They may be industrialists who want to go to the Leipzig Fair, or psychologists attending an international convention in Helsinki. They bring their specifications to American Express, and the company experts plan an itinerary for them which enables them to visit as many interesting places en route to the main event as their time and money allow. Once the itinerary is approved, American Express does all the detail work, and at the proper time the organization is provided with a package for each of its members which contains steamship and rail tickets and coupons for hotel rooms and meals, for auto-mobiles and guides, baggage transfers, and everything else they may need except alcoholic refreshment.

To Learn more about Expressmen As Prisoners Of War - Click here



Your traveller, however, is apt to drift whither, he listeth, and he is also apt to demand luxury accommodations wherever he finds himself. Seeing that he gets them takes extraordinarily efficient staff work.

To get an idea of the magnitude of the problem, consider the matter of a lodging for the night. For the season of 1950, American Express reserved approximately 350,000 beds (the unit represents accommodation for one person for one night) in European hotels and 200,000 beds in hotels in the continental United States. Each person for whom one of these beds was reserved had to be in the right place on the particular night specified, or, if he was not, his reservation had to be changed.

In addition, the Travellers had to be provided with ship, rail, or plane reservations, automotive transportation, meals, guides, tickets to museums, theatres, bull-fights, or whatever artistic, dramatic, or sporting events were the main attractions in the places... see: SERVICE ALL THE WAY

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