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#Covid-19 and EoC - Unitur, Brazil: increasing communion in times of the pandemic

Tourism is one of the sectors most affected during the pandemic. And in the more than 25 years of its existence, Unitur has learned that there is an invaluable resource for overcoming times of crisis.

published in Anpecom on 24/04/2020

A conversation with Paulo Hoffmeister, CEO of Unitur Travel and Tourism Agency in Brazil.

Unitur is a travel agency specialized in group travel in Brazil and abroad. Founded in 1995, it is based in Porto Alegre and has an agency in Igarassu, in the metropolitan region of Recife, and it has promoters in Teresina and Belém. Hired as executive director in 2011, Hoffmeister tells us how they are living through this period of the pandemic.

"The coronavirus pandemic first seemed a bit far away, beyond our operational reality, but like a big wave, it got closer and in a few days we had to review all our planning as a company. For this first half of this year we had several already confirmed travel groups: religious, pedagogical and even corporate. However, as the number of calls from our passengers grew, who were worried about the situation of their trips and whether they would actually be possible to do. We had to act quickly giving answers and offering a more serene and secure solution, with a lot of transparency. Gradually, our customers became aware of us being close to them, that we were by their side, to offer the best solutions for their travels. It is a relationship of trust and reliability that is not improvised but the result of a history that’s an honour for us and also a commitment to remain faithful to the values proposed by the Economy of Communion".

Hoffmeister also tells us that a wave of collaboration was born between the company's employees, who were willing to help those most in need and those facing urgent deadlines.

organize grupo galeria unitur Edc thumbnailA first initiative was to call the passengers, mainly to hear how they were doing and if they needed anything. "Many are elderly and live alone". The calls were continued, surprising customers with this particular attention. "They were calls with obviously no sales expectations, but only to share in their daily life and their fears.” At the end of each call, they realized that those called felt more encouraged and grateful because of the calls, which sometimes lasted a long time.

Something had to be done about suppliers, too. In this sense, they tried to get in touch with those who were facing more delicate situations, such as the guides who accompanied the groups and who would be out of work in the coming months. Some were moved by this unexpected gesture.

"We decided to keep the salary of the person in charge of cleaning the agency, even if the service is not carried out during this quarantine period, since all employees are in smart working mode
colaboradores unitur Edc thumbnail

These days we also called the post office that provides us with daily envelope and parcel collection services, just to see if they were okay. It was also a mutual encouragement to get through this time.

Our intention has been to create a wave of solidarity and collaboration with all those we are in contact with in our activities, starting from the person who visits our company daily to pick up parcels, to the person in charge of cleaning, to all employees, suppliers and customers.

We can see in these days the importance and the fruit of the experience of fraternity in all our interpersonal relationships. It is certainly an invaluable resource for overcoming times of crisis".

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