As Hurricane Katrina takes a toll on New Orleans, the travel
industry continues to alter plans.
United Airlines, American Airlines and Continental Airlines were
among the airlines to cancel flights and also expect further
delays. Katrina also prompted cruise lines to change itineraries
including Carnival Cruise Lines, which recently repositioned
several cruise ships.
The hurricane also hit New Orleans during its prime convention
season. Meeting planners and hotel officials are working to see how
many scheduled conventions the city can accommodate, and officials
said they expect the city to recover quickly. For example, the
350-room Omni Royal Orleans expects to accommodate groups scheduled
after Labor Day, according to reports.
Italiatour’s Closure Costs Clients
The closing of Italiatour’s U.S. office in July left many loose
ends in its wake, as well as a clamor from travel agents who said
their clients had been left in the lurch and had lost money in some
cases thousands of dollars.
Carol Henry, an agent with Bisquane Travel in Brooklyn, N.Y., said
one of her clients had lost a hard-earned $7,000 in the Italiatour
“Somebody needs to do something,” she said. “My clients went to
make their last payment, and they [Italiatour] were gone. What do
you tell people who spent the money? It’s not our fault. We don’t
see the money till after you’ve traveled.”
Pam Hartman, manager of Garber Travel in Beverly, Mass., said, “My
clients had a booking, and Italiatour went [out of business]. There
was no notification. They just weren’t answering their phones. It
took a long time to figure it out.”
Joe Berardo, chairman of Moonachie, N.J.-based Central Holidays,
said that some 500 customers had been left in the lurch when
Italiatour shut down.
Italiatour, which was the private-label vacation-packaging unit of
Alitalia, was sold by the airline to Rome-based CIT Tours in May
2003. At the time of the sale, Alitalia retained a 20 percent stake
in the business, officials said.
CIT closed the office of its CIT brand last January, saying it was
consolidating its U.S. operations under the name Italiatour. But in
July Italiatour also closed.
Travel agents and customers are wondering aloud where the buck
stops. CIT’s Canadian office in Toronto is still functioning, and
according to its director, Diane Pothan, the parent company in Rome
is still in business.
Although Alitalia retained a percentage of the business when it
sold, a spokeswoman said, “Unfortunately we’re worse off than the
customers. We are honoring any tickets that were issued whether
Italiatour paid us or not.”
Farelogix Adds Air Carriers
Travel-distribution technology company Farelogix Inc., recently
signed a series of contracts with leading airlines including
Continental and United (final negotiations are being made with
west) establishing direct connections between airline reservation
systems and the FLX Platform. Agents using the FLX Platform now
have access to an expanded base of airline inventory.
The FLX Platform was developed as a low-cost distribution system
that aggregates content from all four major global distribution
systems (GDS) and connects directly with various airline, private
and Internet fare sources.
With a distribution agreement between Radius and Pass Consulting
also in place, Farelogix hopes to become the first GDS new entrant
to provide a direct connection to the Radius Wheel using Pass’
Virtual Travel Organizer (VTO). Radius Wheel automatically checks
for better savings with each travel booking made. Soon, agencies
utilizing the FLX Platform or the VTO will have access to an
expanded selection of travel inventory and discounted prices
negotiated between Radius and its suppliers.
New Ensemble Travel Options
Ensemble Travel Group members can soon offer more travel options to
clients with the addition of three new partners to the Ensemble On
Melitour offers cultural, educational, private and special-interest
tours of Turkey and surrounding areas. Well known for its ability
to connect travelers with locals, clients can visit homes (even
share a meal) and observe classroom activities.
Elegant Harbors and Havens provides vacations in the less-traveled
areas of Hawaii and Tahiti. In addition to unique offerings like a
private geologist-led tour of Maui or exploring Tahiti’s mountains
by four-wheel drive or on foot, the supplier recently expanded its
product line to include professional wedding services in Hawaii,
coordinating the minister and license down to the dove and
Excursions Ltd., offers a range of services from cruise-related
touring to group and individual travel and family vacation
itineraries throughout Scotland. www.ensembletravel.ca