Team Travel Strategies Evolve as Offices Remain Closed

By: Matthew Parsons
February 18th, 2022

Most companies are still finding their feet when it comes to remote working, but not this travel agency, which thinks it’s cracked it.

Amtrak Vacations, the tour operator for Amtrak, and Railbookers shifted to remote work during the pandemic but decided to make it permanent.

Frank Marini, president and CEO of the two companies, was apparently against the idea of people working remotely before the pandemic, but six months in changed his tune and drove the decision to become a virtual company.

It’s not gone quite as far as dating app Ashley Madison, which shared its policy with Skift last year — no unlimited vacation policy, for example — but for a travel agency that type of perk may lead to trouble.

The policy rules include …

Everyone needs to have their video on, the company dictates, but on the plus side this has given them a window into each other’s lives, or so it claims. “They will routinely see a cat cross a desk, a child come into a room, or someone’s guitar collection. They have learned more about one another by interacting from their home spaces than they ever did while working in the office.”

Marini also schedules in “random coffee chats and social time” with groups of up to 10 people every week to discuss whatever’s on their mind. Pets and musical instruments probably spring up a lot.

And technology wise, each staff member is allowed a generous “three to four” computer screens to check in on various systems and customer service call boards.

The upshot? The decision to go permanently comes as the company reports 2022 will already be a record year in terms of revenue (no mean feat considering it’s only February.) Employees are also using up fewer sick days, while staff turnover is at its lowest level ever. In fact, there’s no sign of a labor crisis because the company claims the new policy has boosted recruitment: “Word on the street has also created a huge influx of applications from people who want to work for the brands because of the WFH opportunity.”

The group currently employs staff across 26 states in the U.S. and in four countries — and counting.

Read the full article, here.