As the holiday season winds down, here’s a feel-good story about a supplier stepping up to help a travel agency reach its destination in style — and for a good cause.
Every year, Elaine Radcliffe, owner of EBR Travel outside of Boston, plans a trip for a group of high school students to the Give Kids the World Village in Orlando. About 35-40 people make the annual trip.
Students have a Make-A-Wish Club at school, which raises funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Give Kids the World Village trip is an opportunity to volunteer their time on a service trip (with many wish-granting groups, including Give Kids the World Make-A-Wish works).
Give Kids the World Village is a nonprofit resort in Kissimmee, Fla., that offers free weekends to at-risk children and their families who want to visit Florida and nearby destinations such as Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando (all). Three, and other hospitality companies, partners in the village).
“It’s not business I normally do,” Radcliffe said. “I book Disney, but I don’t specialize in Disney or groups like that. But I love doing it every year because of this one group, the connection to it. I, I’ve seen firsthand — I’ve traveled with them for a year — to see what the students get out of it. And hearing about it every year from the chaperones. It’s so cool. It’s really incredible.”
A hurricane hiccup
This year’s group traveled from Boston to Orlando last month, on a Tuesday in early November, just before Hurricane Nicole made landfall. They were flying on Delta Airlines.
Radcliffe, of course, worked with Delta’s crew department. But with airports closed due to the storm, the best they could do was a flight to Tampa on Saturday morning.
At the same time, a chaperone tweeted about the delay, tagging the New England Patriots with a request to use their private plane. Although the Patriots remained silent, Delta was also tagged in the tweet, which caught the airline’s eye.
On Wednesday afternoon, a Delta representative reached out with good news, Radcliffe said: He had arranged a flight that would take them to Orlando on Friday, just in time for their scheduled work shift at Give Kids the World.
Not only did Delta fly the group to Orlando, Radcliffe reported, but representatives escorted them through check-in at Logan Airport, opened a dedicated TSA line for them in Boston, and then treated them to breakfast in the Sky Lounge.
Special connection in flight
The flight seemed almost destined. Radcliffe shared a Facebook post by club advisor Jennifer Pavia-Shiels, talking about the trip.
As the group boarded the plane, Pavia-Sheils said the pilot took them aside to thank them for volunteering in the village. He was a wishy-washy kid after several brain tumors and surgeries in his youth. It was actually his last flight for the airline and he asked to fly it 30 minutes early.
“Bowling,” Pavia-Schiels wrote. “It seems fitting that our world intersects in such a wonderful way.”
The group also got a great response in Orlando, Radcliffe said. They received goodie bags of snacks and were personally escorted to their waiting transfers.
Assisting the team was Delta representative Harry “Bud” Sullivan, manager of field support/reservation operations and customer center for the airline.
“Taking care of our customers and doing everything we can to help them through challenging times is always our priority,” Sullivan said. “I’m grateful to be able to help this group on their annual volunteer trip to present a global village to children in Orlando because it’s something they support and something very close to my heart.”
In addition to Delta, Radcliffe also gave a shout-out to his host agency, Travel Planners International. Team members provided assistance in planning group travel and tracking changes. Myers and Disney Youth Groups also helped make the trip possible.