Last month, Air New Zealand changed its long-haul pricing model
on North American routes by removing certain fare restrictions and
allowing those who book early to get the cheapest fares.
“We’re doing something to pricing that no other long-haul airline
has been able to do to date, simplifying it,” said Gus Gilmore,
vice president of Air New Zealand, The Americas. “This innovative
approach allows us to streamline the entire booking process and add
more flexibility for your customers.”
International fares can be inconsistent or high for people who book
flights early, prompting many customers looking for last-minute
deals to book closer to their departure date. Now, the earlier
agents book their customers’ flights, the better the deal. The
airline will also let travelers book a different cabin class each
Air New Zealand is also nixing weekend surcharges, minimum-stay
requirements and reducing seasonal fares. In the past, travelers
flying from Los Angeles to Auckland could only purchase stopovers
on select fares, but now this option is available on all Los
Angeles to Auckland fares. Prices for Pacific Island stopovers in
Fiji, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Tonga and Samoa are $100 per stop
for southbound stopovers and $200 per stop for northbound
Agents Get a Reality Check
A veteran of the hit reality show “The Apprentice” will
join the Travelsavers 35th anniversary convention to be held Sept.
TV’s boardroom judge and executive vice president of the Trump
Organization, George Ross, will be a keynote speaker.
As many as 1,000 travel industry professionals and suppliers are
expected to attend the event at the Westin Kierland Resort &
Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Travelsavers agents who want to register for the convention can do
so on the company’s Web site.
ASTA Approves Two-Tiered Membership
The American Society of Travel Agents’ (ASTA) board of
directors unanimously approved a plan to create two membership
tiers for agent members in order to provide more services to
agencies willing to pay top dollar.
The proposal will go to a membership vote in September. If voters
give it the okay, members will be asked to ratify a new governance
plan by year end, and the two plans would be fully operational in
For $2,500 a year, Premium member agencies would have access to a
range of customized consulting services.
Dues for Core members (agencies or individuals) would be $250 per
location a reduction from the $365 now paid by a single-location
business, but higher than the $189 paid by individual “travel
Core members’ fees would enable members to have access to many of
the same benefits and services currently available to members,
however the services would be more often delivered via the
Internet, officials said. In addition, Core members would receive
summary versions of the customized information and advice developed
for Premium members.
Today, the Society counts about 7,000 voting members, but,
according to officials, the new plan relies on conservative
projections over the next three years of about 4,000 Core members
and 1,000-plus Premium members. www.astanet.com
Cruise Tax Gains Ground
Plans to tax cruise ships $4 to $5 per passenger appear to
be gaining ground in Sitka, Alaska, raising some eyebrows in the
cruise industry, The Associated Press reported.
Sitka administrator John Stein will introduce the cruise-passenger
tax proposal to the city assembly who can then accept, reject or
let voters decide on the proposal in October’s election, officials
said. The tax is estimated to raise $1 million annually, the AP
reported, and must be used to directly benefit the cruise industry
Meanwhile, Sitka resident Mary Magnuson is working toward a
$5-per-passenger increase and plans to collect more than 650
signatures to get the initiative on the October ballot. But if the
assembly accepts Stein’s proposal, Magnuson said she’ll drop her
While Juneau charges $5 a head and Ketchikan charges $6, according
to reports, cruise industry professionals feel Sitka might be
asking too much.
The city, which doesn’t have a docking facility, doesn’t see many
cruise ships, and $4 to $5 “would be very high in relation to what
their expenses are,” said John Shively, vice president of
government and community relations at Holland America.
New Proposal Could Affect Agents Selling California
Travel agents, tour operators and anyone else who sells
land-only vacations of $300 or more to California residents would
have to register and comply with the state’s seller-of-travel law
under a proposal now before the state legislature.
The proposal to expand the statute would also mean that
California-based companies that sell land-only travel would have to
participate and pay an assessment to the Travel Consumer
Restitution Corp. (TCRC), California’s unique program that
reimburses consumers hurt by bankruptcy, company failure or fraud
by fund participants.
The 10-year-old law requires anyone, other than airlines and cruise
lines, who sells air and sea transportation to Californians to
register with the attorney general’s office, pay an annual $100 fee
and comply with regulations regarding use of registration numbers
in advertising, the prompt delivery of documents and maintaining a
bond or a trust account.
A bill introduced by State Senator Jackie Speier would expand the
law’s jurisdiction to cover those who sell land- and water-based
trips of $300 per person or more. Airlines and cruise lines would
The proposal comes at the request of the California Coalition of
Travel Organizations (CCTO), an industry lobbying group that has
been the primary driver of the law. The group comprises three ASTA
chapters, the U.S. Tour Operators Association and two agency
networks, Westa and Signature Travel.
Antoine Georges, San Diego ASTA chapter president and president of
the TCRC, is fighting the proposal.
As for the bill’s chances of passing, officials said it would be
premature to comment.www.leginfo.ca.gov