To die in harness, with fingers filling the gaps

Hurricane Irma meant, from last Tuesday the 5th of September on, when it became clear that this would become an enormous and powerful hurricane, that the emergency protocols were coming into force at Jan Doets.

It is our duty of care as a traveling agency that the travelers in Florida, the Bahamas and the travelers who were to travel from another point in the US to Florida, were safe.

There has to be constant evaluation on what and where it is safe. Tuesday we were informed about the obligatory evacuations on the Florida Keys. Wednesday we were certain rather quickly that this was becoming a mega storm and that both of the Florida coasts were going to get hit, regardless of where the eye of the storm would be. We decided that all the customers in Florida were to travel to Georgia, California or that they were going home early. However, we decided to let the customers in the villas in Orlando stay there, since the distance to the coast is several hundreds of kilometers and the villas are located at Florida’s highest point, as long as the customers were comfortable with this. All this meant that three or four of Jan Doets’ full-timers were to set everything in motion to give the appropriate precautionary actions and attention.

Furthermore we were also faced with a mandatory evacuation in Waterton National Park in West Canada. With regard to a forest fire in the immediate surroundings a fair number of travelers had to be rebooked to alternative places. Which is quite a challenge considering that mountains, mountain passes, a limited amount of accommodations and distance are all to be taken into account.

We are in close contact with our suppliers in Florida and Canada. It is good to work directly with our hoteliers, through whom we have short lines of communication.

Just like I maintained diverse contact with a hotelier in Miami South Beach. He has been the owner of two historical Art Deco hotels since the 70’s. We have been working with him for over 30 years. He is one of the last of the Mohicans in SoBe who has not sold his hotels. Because of which his hotels ended up in the highly lucrative, but also speculative real estate bubble of SoBe.

He consciously made the decision for the ‘passion’ for his hotels and customers. He invested and modernized well, taking the history of his hotels into careful consideration and giving them the respect they deserve. Last week he let me know that he was going to stay in his hotels during Hurricane Irma, in spite of the obligatory evacuation in Miami. He let me know he was going to ‘put his fingers in the gaps’ where it was needed. It felt to me as if he was willing to die in harness.

Luckily the hurricane damage turned out less awful as expected for his 2 hotels in Miami, apart from some debris. He just let me know that he would like to open his hotels again tomorrow, as long as the streets are cleared.

The passion, the care and the resilience of the people in the hospitality branch exceeds the realization of many!