July 24, 2014

Vanderbilt Travel helps staffer in Tel Aviv

During a July trip to Tel Aviv, Vanderbilt Travel reached out to the Owen School’s Kim Killingsworth to see if she was safe.


Kim Killingsworth is no stranger to possible dangers during international travel. The Peace Corps veteran with a lifelong career in international higher education is now director of international recruiting and relations at Owen Graduate School of Management, for which she travels internationally about twice a month during the academic year. During an early July trip to Tel Aviv, Vanderbilt Travel reached out to her because of the escalation of the armed conflict between Israel and Gaza.

“Within 24 hours of arriving, I received an email sent at 6:30 in the morning from Sabrina Kronk, program manager with Travel, letting us know that air strikes were being reported and asking me to confirm that I was safe,” Killingsworth said. “It was really nice that it wasn’t just an automated email, it was a real person from Vanderbilt.” The email also contained contact information for emergency services, in case they were needed.

“[rquote]I really appreciate how she kept her head together,” Killingsworth said. “She wasn’t being an alarmist or expecting me to return immediately, she was just sharing information.[/rquote] I value a good crisis communication plan from my personal experience of having been on the other end in international crisis situations.”

As part of its travel services, Vanderbilt contracts with International SOS, which provides our international travelers with assistance during emergency situations that may arise during travel or international relocation. One phone call connects travelers to the International SOS network of multilingual specialists for immediate help with medical, personal, travel, security and legal problems when away from home.

Information about Vanderbilt international business trips booked through Vanderbilt’s travel partners, which are the Concur online booking tool and Corporate Travel Management (CTM), are automatically sent to International SOS, which then registers the trip for monitoring and its emergency services. In addition, the Vanderbilt team monitors travel alerts every day for weather, high flight volumes and instances of violence, unrest or terrorism. If any Vanderbilt travelers are in impacted areas, the travel team checks on them via email and also provides emergency assistance information. The travel team also updates senior leadership at Vanderbilt about these travelers.

Killingsworth was in Tel Aviv to participate in an MBA recruiting fair sponsored by EducationUSA, a network of educational advisers sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. When the air strikes began, organizers canceled the two-day event, then reversed position and held a distilled daylong version.

Now back in Nashville, Killingsworth said she has a different perspective on the Israel-Palestine conflict and is more aware of how locals live with this type of stress on an ongoing basis. “I watched how parents dealt with this. When the sirens went off we would all run to a bomb shelter, and the kids seemed to take it in stride. It made me think of how difficult it must be to parent in that situation,” she said. “People just seem to go on with their everyday lives but it must be incredibly stressful.”