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Passengers Needing Special Assistance

How a travel-specialist group meets the needs of its demanding clients.

World Travel Specialists Group, based in New York City, specializes in meeting the the unique travel needs of consultants, investment bankers, and lawyers. “Our clients are demanding,” says Chairman Paul Metselaar. “We get some bizarre requests.”

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You may not need Metselaar’s help – but you can learn from his advice.

PROFESSION WHAT THEY NEED WHAT HE DOES ABOVE and BEYOND
Consultants

TRAVEL CHALLENGE
Feeling at home, away from home.

Consultants travel all the time, says Metselaar, so little touches mean a lot: “One of our travel advisers has his wife, a British Airways flight attendant, grab copies of the London papers before she gets off the Concorde in New York. The New York-based British consultants whom he works with love reading them in the morning.” Metselaar focuses on the details: “Some consultants like the pillow they sleep on at home, so we see if we can get the same brand at a local store. A consultant was on the road and needed a piano so he could practice for a father-daughter recital. The hotel didn’t have the right kind – we found one for him.” “One of our clients was going to London and wanted to schedule a squash match with someone who played at a certain level of skill. We asked the concierge at the client’s London hotel for help. It turned out that the concierge was a ranked player. He said, ‘I’m the concierge. It’s my duty to provide service!'”
Investment Bankers

TRAVEL CHALLENGE
Staying on n time whethe world runs late

When investment bankers escort a client on an IPO road show, they might hit 10 or 12 cities in eight days. And mutual-fund managers don’t like to be kept waiting. Staying on schedule requires extraordinary coordination. Metselaar eliminates chance and delay: “If a flight requires a long layover or a rapid connection, then chartering a plane makes sense. Sure, it can be expensive – it can cost $3,000 to $40,000. But standing up potential investors can cost even more. We also like to hire airport valets or welcoming services.” Wall Street doesn’t stop for bad weather: “We had an investment banker who, because of fog, was stuck at an airport on the east coast of North Carolina. The delay would have caused him to miss a big meeting. So we rented cars to drive him and his colleagues to Raleigh, where another plane was waiting for them.”
Lawyers

TRAVEL CHALLENGE
Securing war rooms

Litigators with big cases in faraway cities often have to set up remote work spaces – sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for several months. They need offices, conference rooms, even warehouse space – as well as court reporters, translators, phone lines, and computers. Metselaar tries hotels first. For the right price, they can be very creative about providing long-term space. Some office buildings rent suites by the month, and real-estate companies often agree to sublet office space too. Managers of underused warehouses will arrange short-term leases as well. But be sure to do your due diligence. “Once we leased a warehouse in Delaware and brought in four truckloads of documents,” says Metselaar. “But the warehouse was so dark that we also had to bring in a generator from a construction company.”