ASTA Member Testifies Before Congress
Rae Ann Ryan, president and owner of Travel Affiliates
(Gulfport, Miss.), testified Oct. 7 before the U.S. House of
Representatives’ Committee on Small Businesses at the hearing,
“Small Businesses and Hurricane Katrina: Rebuilding the
Ryan shared the effects that Katrina had on her business as well
as others across Gulfport, which included extensive damage to
infrastructure, a decreasing workforce and many agencies forced to
go out of business.
She also cited a need for travel agencies to have access to
working capital to sustain their businesses while the area
rebuilds. This includes access to disaster loans, deferred payment
on principal payments on new and existing disaster loans and
consolidation and refinancing opportunities for small
Aside from the government, the tourism industry is the largest
employer in the city of New Orleans, with more than 80,000 jobs and
a $5 billion annual impact on the economy. Travel- and
tourism-specific jobs account for approximately 18 percent of the
total employment for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Charles B. West, Founder of Cruise West, Dies at Age
Charles “Chuck” B. West, Alaska Tourism pioneer and former
president of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) died Oct.
4, of natural causes at the age of 90 with his family by his side
in his cabin in Haines, Alaska.
Known as “Mr. Alaska,” West established Alaska’s first tour
company, Arctic Alaska Tours, after initially organizing, selling
and piloting the first all-tourist air excursions to Nome on the
Bering Sea and Kotzebue on Alaska’s Arctic coast.
He went on to establish Alaska’s first all-tourist hotel chain,
motorcoach network and Inside Passage cruise line all of which were
devoted exclusively to tourist travel. In 1957, he consolidated
these ventures into one umbrella company, Westours, which became
Alaska’s dominant operator. In 1973, he sold the company to Holland
America and founded another Alaska travel company, Cruise West. Now
directed by his son, Richard G. West, Cruise West is North
America’s largest small-ship cruise line, with ships in Alaska,
British Columbia, California, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, Central
America, Japan and the South Pacific.
During the 1980s, West experimented with multi-night,
daylight-only yacht cruises in Alaska’s Inside Passage, leading to
a program that still operates today. In addition to a career
focused on the development of Alaskan tourism, West served two
years (1969-1970) as president of ASTA.
“He transformed a polite society into an industry force that has
a powerful influence on the relationships between travel agents,
tour operators, the traveling public and the transportation
industry,” said George L. Fichtenbaum, a former ASTA executive.
West has received many awards for his achievements throughout
the years, including membership in ASTA’s Travel Hall of Fame; the
Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement;
membership in the Alaska Business Hall of Fame; the Alaska
Visitor’s Association North Star Award for lifetime achievement;
and the United States Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross.
Suntrips’ Commission ‘Delayed’
According to reports from several travel agents received at
TravelAge West last week, tour operator SunTrips has delayed
payments on agent commissions.
A spokesperson for the company acknowledged the delay, however
Scott MacDougall, the company’s general manager released a brief
statement stating that the delay is only temporary.
“SunTrips has experienced a minor delay in processing our
commission payments,” he said. “Commissions are scheduled to be
processed the week ending Oct. 21.”
The agents claimed they were originally told by company
representatives that the commission payments would be delayed
“indefinitely.” In its statement, however, SunTrips dismisses that
Business as Usual
In response to TransMeridian Airlines’ announcement that they
have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and have ceased all
flight operations, Funjet Vacations will be offering alternatives
for vacation travel.
For Funjet Vacations, the TransMeridian Airlines’ shutdown
primarily affects passengers departing from Cleveland, Chicago
O’Hare and San Antonio, Texas.
Fortunately, the TransMeridian Airlines’ decision only impacts
limited Funjet Vacations’ flights through the end of this year, as
other airlines had already been secured for 2006 air service.
The company plans to operate business as usual and is working to
secure service from other carriers.
ATTA’s New Webinars
Association of Travel Agents of America (ATAA) will be offering
a series of live online “Webinar” classes presented by Nolan Burris
and Carol Fullmer of Visionistics. The cost is $50 per session for
ATAA members and $75 for non-members.
ATAA Fall Webinar Series will include:
“The Wonder of Wow: Travel Agency Sales Webinar” held on Oct. 18
from 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. or Oct. 19 from 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. (PST).
“The Wow of Consulting in Sales: Selling Information Webinar”
held on Nov. 1, from 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. or Nov. 2, from 3 p.m.-4:30
“When Opportunity Knocks: Turning Shoppers Into Customers
Webinar” held on Nov. 29 from 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. or Nov. 30 from 3
p.m.-4:30 p.m. (PST).
“Wow Resources and Delivery: Identifying Your Skills and
Potential” held on Dec. 6, from 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. or Dec. 7 from 3
p.m.-4:30 p.m. (PST).
“Managing a Wow Strategy: How to Get Everyone Onboard” held on
Dec. 13 from 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. or Dec. 14 from 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Greece Discovery Fam
Sterling Vacations is offering Greece Discovery, a seven-day,
six-night tour and cruise of Athens.
The package, which is $599 per agent based on double occupancy,
and $749 for companions and others based on double occupancy,
includes a welcome cocktail reception; all transfers (airport/
hotel/ship); four-days, three-nights Athens First Class inclusive
land package with sightseeing; all meals and snacks while cruising;
and Sterling industry and marketing seminars.
Travelers also have the option of spending a full day in Delphi,
including lunch for an extra $79.
Departures are scheduled for Mar. 30, April. 13 and 20, May 4
and June 1.
Travel Impressions, one of the country’s largest tour operators,
is offering a fully commissionable “Cancel for Any Reason” Travel
Protection insurance plan that is available for any package.
Travel agents who book the Travel Protection plan receive their
usual commission for each plan sold, 10-15 percent. Additionally,
travel agents’ commissions are protected up to $100 per booking on
all cancelled reservations that are paid in full.
The plan includes 24-hour worldwide access to the Travel
Impressions hotline should clients require emergency traveler’s
assistance during their vacation.
The travel insurance can be purchased on all reservations made
with Travel Impressions and its managed brands, including
Aeromexico Vacations. Starting prices for the insurance are $89 per
adult and $45 per child 12 and under.
Travel Impressions is a wholly owned subsidiary of American
Jurni Network recently announced the Jurni Rewards Program,
offering member agents a variety of ways to earn valuable
Points can be redeemed for rewards such as scholarships for The
Travel Institute Certified Travel Associate and Certified Travel
Counselor accreditations; Lifestyle Specialist and/or Destination
Specialist courses; supplier fam trips; and gift cards at Target,
Crate&Barrel and Amazon.com.
Jurni Rewards Program members can earn points by participating
in supplier and product training sessions, booking travel products
for their customers with monthly highlighted suppliers and/or using
featured Jurni products and tools.
Participants in the rewards program can now log on to a special
Web site to track accumulated points and recent redemptions.
Jurni Network is a brand of Sabre Travel Network.
A Gift of Pearls
Through the end of the year, travel agents who book a
seven-night or longer vacation through Creative Leisure
International will receive a Tahitian pearl.
The black pearl will be mounted on 18-karat gold for agents to
keep or give to clients as a gift. The pearl will be sent 14 days
“Tahiti, the pearl of the South Pacific, calls to couples,
families and honeymooners to experience a vacation of a lifetime in
one of our stunning properties,” said Michelle Erbs, marketing
Creative Leisure International is a privately held company
headquartered in Petaluma, Calif., and specializes in customized
vacations to Tahiti, Hawaii, Mexico, Europe and the Caribbean.