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Helping a Client Rebuild After Hurricane Sandy


Winds from a massive hurricane have knocked down trees and power lines across your community. You have no heat, no hot water, no landline, no Internet – no way to stay in touch. You’re saving your mobile phone battery for emergencies, but service is spotty anyway, due to high usage and damaged cell towers. It’s late October in New Jersey, and the news is grim: your town will likely be out of power for one to two weeks.

Millions of people in the U.S. Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, particularly New Jersey, Long Island and New York City, faced a similar situation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy: a dark, impenetrable silence. Over the next month, our client, a U.S. telecommunications company, worked tirelessly to restore their landline and fiber-optic service in the storm-ravaged region. More than 400,000 repairs. Over 8,500 poles. 14 million feet of wire. More than 1.5 million customers reconnected with their friends, neighbors and families.

Around 1,700 of the client’s technicians poured in from all over the country to rebuild the infrastructure, creating a unique travel conundrum. Not only did the repair crews need extended accommodations, but they also required hotels near garages or where they could park their trucks overnight. Heavily-populated New York and New Jersey have an ample supply of hotels, but they’d suddenly become a hot commodity for locals who’d lost their homes or were without power, and for workers from other organizations, like FEMA and the American Red Cross, who’d come to help with cleanup and recovery.


The client’s travel team got to work immediately to find accommodations for their technicians, but with high hotel demand, low availability and a critical need to repair their infrastructure, arranging accommodations quickly became too much to handle. They turned to American Express Global Business Travel for help. We put our travel counselors on the phones, too, and consolidated the efforts – because the client is serviced by the AXCESS@HOME VIRTUAL NETWORK, they had constant coverage, even with some locally based travel counselors out of power themselves. The client’s travel team found open hotel blocks, shared that information with American Express global business travel, and we handled bookings and confirmations, making sure the client had enough capacity for all of the repair crews, every night. As the situation evolved, room requirements often changed; American Express global business travel negotiated with hotels to reduce or waive no-show fees wherever possible, and recommended hotel properties with favorable contractual terms.

Like the technicians, both companies’ travel teams worked tirelessly for nearly a month after the storm hit, through weekends and the Thanksgiving holiday, sacrificing time with family and friends to do their part to repair the client’s landlines and fiber-optic system. In total, the teams spoke to several hundred hotels, ultimately booking nearly 48,000 room nights at more than 200 hotel properties to support Hurricane Sandy recovery.


Something as simple as hotel accommodations can have a big impact on a lot of people. With roofs over their heads, repair crews kept the client’s business running so they could rebuild the infrastructure quickly to get communities hit hard by Sandy back up and running. A massive undertaking, and a meaningful one, because a voice on the other end of the line can bring the greatest comfort in the dark.