Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s Emergency Service Center at Heathrow celebrates 20th anniversary

London | December 22, 2010

Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), a global leader specializing in business travel management, is honoring 20 years of continuous service at its Heathrow Emergency Service Centre (ESC), a 24/7 traveler assistance center for CWT clients. Since its creation in 1990, the ESC has seen its staff grow by more than 10 fold and clocked more than 10.5 million minutes of non-stop traveler emergency service for CWT clients in 58 countries.

CWT emergency services refer to reservations and enquiries for same -day travel, as well as services provided when a traveler’s own service center is closed, such as weekends or public holidays.* Traveler requests include modified bookings, reissued tickets and new bookings. The Heathrow ESC team comprises more than 70 travel counselors, representing more than 20 nationalities and providing service in English, French and Spanish. They use all major global distribution systems (GDSs) to access reservations made by CWT offices around the world.

According to Trevor Greenaway, director of the Heathrow ESC since 2000, “The demand for emergency travel services has increased significantly over the years, particularly since airlines closed their 24-hour call centers and transferred e-ticketing functions to travel management companies.”

The ESC also operates a round-the-clock, global crisis center. Live news feeds from around the world alert the team to any event that may disrupt travel and/or involve serious injury or loss of life. When an incident occurs, designated CWT personnel and client contacts are notified immediately by email or text message. Reports are run simultaneously to determine if CWT clients are potentially involved. A subsequent message indicates to CWT personnel and client contacts whether or not CWT travelers have been identified as being at risk. If so, clients with travelers potentially involved are phoned immediately so the necessary next steps can be taken.

“Over the past two decades, the ESC has provided emergency traveler assistance through two Gulf Wars, a number of airline incidents, the tsunami, 9/11, volcanic ash cloud, strikes and inclement weather,” said Liz Benneyworth, duty manager, who has been with the ESC since the day it opened. “We never stop.”

Much of the ESC’s formula for success lies with its expert staff, who, in addition to having extensive industry experience, have all completed six weeks of intensive specialist training to handle crisis calls. Working 10 flexible shifts, they can be supported at a moment’s notice by more than 30 home-based CWT travel consultants throughout the U.K.

Looking back, Mr. Greenaway emphasizes that the Heathrow ESC predates email and the Internet. “In 1990, the original six ESC employees, then operating under Pickfords Business Travel, had to queue to use individual GDS terminals.” He noted that several years later, the center was incorporated into Wagons-lit Travel and French and Spanish were added to the language assistance offered. In 1994, the ESC was incorporated as Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

In addition to the Heathrow ESC, CWT operates 24/7 emergency service centers in the United States and Asia Pacific.

* The Emergency Service Center will accept reservations and enquiries for travel the same day, over weekends and public holidays and up to midnight on the day the client branch next opens.

About Carlson Wagonlit Travel
Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) is a global leader specializing in business travel management. Present in more than 150 countries, CWT serves companies of all sizes, as well as government institutions and non-governmental organizations. By leveraging both the expertise of its people and leading-edge technology, CWT helps clients derive the greatest value from their travel program in terms of savings, service, security and sustainability. The company is also committed to providing best-in-class service and assistance to travelers. CWT services and solutions comprise four lines of business: Traveler & Transaction Services, Program Optimization, Safety & Security, and Meetings & Events. In 2009, sales volume for wholly owned operations and joint ventures totaled US$21.4 billion. For more information, please visit our global Website at


Media Contact:
Christine Fischer
Carlson Wagonlit Travel
44 (0)20 3353 1113

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