Respect for Runaway

Ken Shapiro Some readers might have seen our Cruise Editor, Ana Figueroa, on MSNBC a couple of weeks ago. She was on the Rita Cosby show, commenting on the unfortunate case of the newlywed that went missing from a Royal Caribbean ship in the Mediterranean. It was a contentious panel discussion, but two th

By: Ken Shapiro

Some readers might have seen our Cruise Editor, Ana Figueroa, on MSNBC a couple of weeks ago. She was on the Rita Cosby show, commenting on the unfortunate case of the newlywed that went missing from a Royal Caribbean ship in the Mediterranean. It was a contentious panel discussion, but two things were clear: Nobody knows for sure what happened to the newlywed, and distrust of some companies runs deep sometimes to the point of bordering on irrational.

That’s not to say there isn’t good reason for people to be cautious about what companies tell them these days. Plenty of corporations have earned the public’s distrust, and nobody knows this better than travel agents, who have been burned more times than a cooking school dropout. A look at recent headlines, in fact, shows how some companies prefer to handle financial adversity with confusion, secrecy and, in some cases, outright lies.

One company, however, has shown its class right to the end. Longtime travel agent-favorite Runaway Tours announced that it will cease operations at the end of next month. Unlike some companies, however, Ed Jackson, president of Runaway, has made it clear that the tour operator fully intends to honor its commitments to agents and suppliers.

“Taking care of our clients and vendors is our main priority,” he said in a statement. “Runaway fully intends to protect our clients and we will work with agents to try and protect space at the clients’ hotels. We are also in a position to pay all our vendors.”

Some agents at least seemed to appreciate his honesty.

“Everything is being handled in a classy way, like Runaway was known for,” said Suraj Zutshi, of The Travel Center Inc., in Reno, Nev. Zutshi even received a heartfelt letter from his Runaway rep saying that it was with “huge regret and sadness” that she had to say goodbye to agents.

All of this engendered plenty of good feelings on the part of agents.

“It was a privilege to work with Runaway for so many years,” Zutshi concluded.

More companies would do well to follow Runaway’s example: A little honesty and transparency can go a long way in today’s business world. A dignified exit leaves everyone rooting for your next endeavor. K.S.

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