Rivers' low water levels can be your opportunity to shine: Travel Weekly

Jamie Biesiada

Low water levels in Europe’s rivers often impact river cruises. And while recent rainfall in Europe has alleviated immediate concerns of last-minute changes, it’s an issue advisors will inevitably have to deal with at some point.

Here’s how one, Suzy Schreiner, owner of Azure Blue Vacations in Seattle, turns what could be a negative into a positive.

“It’s been something I’ve been paying close attention to, but what I’ve been able to utilize that for is extra connections with my clients,” Schreiner said.

She begins far before travel by mentally preparing them for a number of different scenarios: Is there a possibility of an interruption to their trip? If there is an interruption, what does that look like? What happens if there is a full cessation of travel? What is the backup plan?

“I have found, especially the last two years, when people travel there are all kinds of random things that come up,” she said. “People test positive for Covid, or whatever. Me helping prepare them for what is a possible thing to expect helps them enjoy their trip more. When they feel like they have a plan, they feel more secure.”

That way, Schreiner said, they go into their trip feeling confident, and if an interruption does occur, they already know the backup plan.

Last week, she had clients enjoying Italy precruise before boarding an Avalon Waterways ship for a river cruise.

While they were enjoying the country, Schreiner was in active contact with Avalon asking about river levels and how their ships have been operating.

“Then I’m going back and I’m communicating these things with my clients, little notes on their trip, just so that they know I’m keeping an eye out for them,” she said. “I’m checking up on things for them. So they don’t have a worry in the world, they just know that Susie’s keeping an eye on things for them.”

They also know if an interruption does happen, Schreiner will be there to help.

Thus far, Schreiner has not had any cancellations for fear of low-water-related interruptions, she said.

“But it’s been a great opportunity for me to prepare clients and really shine as far as my service level,” Schreiner said.

It’s a tactic that seems to be working: Since the pandemic began, her client base has grown steadily, mostly through referrals.

“It was the referrals that were coming my way because my clients felt so taken care of,” she said. “They just felt like they’re not swimming alone in the deep waters of Covid.”

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