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When your clients are faced with a sticky situation abroad, who should be their first call? The nearest U.S. embassy? Local law enforcement personnel? Or, perhaps you — their ever-trustworthy travel advisor?
Miguel Barron, managing partner of U.S. Traveler Assist, a safety and security company for American travelers, says he has the answer. Miguel and his brother, FBI veteran Carlos Barron, created U.S. Traveler Assist to provide clients with a singular, on-the-ground emergency contact: a local, retired legal attache, also known as a Legat.
We asked Miguel about U.S. Traveler Assist’s recent rebranding; how clients and their agents can best use the service; and why it’s different from a travel insurance plan.
What sparked the idea for the company?Carlos worked in embassies throughout the world, and this company was his idea. From his experience, Carlos knows that anything can happen when traveling abroad, from drunk driving and getting caught with drugs to getting mugged or finding yourself in a brawl.
In these cases, people tend to think someone from the U.S. embassy will help them. However, the U.S. embassy’s website says clients are supposed to file their own local police report. So, clients are on their own, and they don’t know the local law.
Because my brother has seen this many times in his travels, he came up with the idea to hire the retiring Legats (former senior U.S. Embassy officials) within certain countries to be a client’s on-the-ground contact.
What resources do these Legats have to help U.S. travelers?A Legat is someone who can help clients navigate a bad situation. He has been in that country for years working in a U.S. embassy, so he’s very connected. He knows the top lawyers in the country; people within the U.S. embassy; and other connections from the top to the bottom of local law enforcement.
We catch these people when they retire, we keep them in the country in which they’ve been working, and we make them accessible on a 24/7 basis to American travelers abroad.
They will have access to clients’ emergency contact info; will know where they are in the country on a given date; and can mobilize quickly to help them, whether that’s in person or through their connections and contacts.
What type of client is best suited to a plan with U.S. Traveler Assist, and should your service be a substitute for a travel insurance policy?Clients can purchase medical extraction from other companies, and they can get travel insurance to cover financial costs, or medical insurance to get coverage for medical costs. But what help can they get for a legal or law enforcement situation? That’s a very gray area. Our company is effectively an advisory service that helps clients navigate out of trouble. People do need to understand the distinction.
We want our product to be accessible to everyone, including tourists, corporate travelers and students. There are two pricing options. Short-term travelers pay $20 per day. The pricing reflects the low probability that anything will happen to your clients.
It’s a bit like buying a term life insurance policy. People buy it, and it gives them peace of mind that they have someone to call should something happen to them. Long-term travelers pay a $250 sign-up fee and a $100 monthly fee thereafter.
You recently rebranded. What changed?We launched about two years ago, operating under a different name: Salus Security Services. We were also in two countries: Spain and Italy. But we decided to change our name to U.S. Traveler Assist. Now, we’ve expanded to eight countries: Mexico, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. The next two we’re hoping to add are Brazil and Germany.
We also revamped the website entirely; people were getting confused about our services, so we rearticulated it in a more obvious way.
What else do you want agents to know about U.S. Traveler Assist?Advisors will probably have lot of clients who may not take a trip because they’re worried about security. It would be interesting for the clients to know that this is a resource that exists. Agents should also know that using us means one less headache for them.
Even financially, offering the product systematically to all clients going to a particular country allows travel advisors to upsell it as a value-added resource that other agencies don’t have. They have the option to buy it in bulk at a discount and price it in, so it can be rewarding for travel agents, too.
The DetailsU.S. Traveler Assistwww.ustravelerassist.com