Industry News 2-16-2007

*Passing of Kirk Smith
*Silversea Restructures

Passing of Kirk Smith

Kirk Smith, Hawaiian Airlines vice president of sales and marketing, died suddenly in Honolulu on Feb 4. Smith, 60, was well-known and well-respected in the travel industry, both in connection with his role at Hawaiian Airlines and in previous travel industry positions. The long-time resident of Hawaii had served in numerous capacities during his nearly four decades in the travel industry.

Smith joined Hawaiian Airlines in 2003, after working for its advertising agency, Starr Seigle Communications. He served as senior director for advertising and promotions before being promoted to vice president-sales and marketing in 2005.

Mark Dunkerley, the airline’s chief executive officer, said of Smith: “His title gives only a small sense of his contributions to our business. More than any other person in our organization, Kirk was responsible for keeping our product Hawaiian and for developing our brand in such a way that it remains true to our local roots and appealing to our customers. He oversaw our advertising activities and in so doing turned our brand into the single most widely recognized airline brand for Hawaii travel. This was an accomplishment about which I and others have bragged a good deal but he never did. He was also responsible for overseeing the company’s promotional activity including all of the volunteer and community support activity that the company sponsors.”

Smith is survived by his daughter, Tara Smith, and his longtime partner, Audrey Higuchi.

Major Restructuring at Silversea

Silversea Cruises has announced a major internal restructuring initiative designed to support the continued growth and expansion of the company.

Albert Peter, who has served as chief executive officer since 2001, is transitioning to deputy chairman of Silversea Leisure and Travel, an affiliate company based in Monaco and led by Silversea Cruises Holding Ltd. chairman Manfredi Lefebvre. The unit focuses on investment opportunities in the travel and leisure markets. Lefebvre will continue as Silversea Cruises Holding Ltd. chairman, overseeing the group’s strategy, based in the Monaco headquarters.

“We are very grateful to Albert for his terrific contribution to Silversea as chief executive over the past six years and are very glad he will continue as a key player in future developments that shareholders have planned. He has guided the company through challenging times, ensuring with shareholders’ support Silversea’s survival post 9/11, and has done much to ensure the company’s financial success and return to profitability. We will continue to draw on his very extensive and wide-ranging experience to develop our leisure and travel investment unit,” said Lefebvre.

Amerigo Perasso has been promoted to president of Silversea, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company and will also be based in Monaco. The sales and marketing, revenue management, vessel operations, finance, information technology, human resources and legal departments will report to him.

Perasso, 41, was appointed as chief financial and revenue officer in 2004 and joined the Silversea group of companies in 1997, working on the project that led to the construction of Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper.

David Morris has been promoted to executive vice president, worldwide sales and marketing. Morris joined the Silversea executive team in 2003 as senior vice president of sales for North America and was promoted in 2006 to executive vice president of sales and marketing for North America.

Morris will report to the president and will continue to be based in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office.

Silversea Cruises offers guests large-ship amenities aboard four vessels, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper. For the ninth year, Silversea was named number one small-ship line in the 2005 “Readers’ Choice” survey conducted by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. For the sixth time, Silversea was selected world’s best small-ship line in the 2004 Travel + Leisure readers’ poll.

Frontier Launches New Service Between San Jose and Cabo San Lucas

As of March 3, Frontier Airlines will begin nonstop service four times a week between Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) and Cabo San Lucas (SJD) airports. Frontier Airlines estimates that this service could mean 50,000 more Northern California visitors a year for Cabo San Lucas. Conversely, San Jose could potentially expect up to 5,000 visitors a year in the early stages of the service.

“We think this has a lot of potential for growth down the road,” said Daniel Fenton, president & CEO of the San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Between this and other international airline service coming along in the future, we will be better able to position San Jose as an international business and convention destination.”

The service will be aboard Frontier’s new fleet of Airbus 319 with 33 inches of legroom along with DIRECTV and pay-per-view movies in every seat back.

ASTA Backs Plan to Scrap Aviation Ticket Tax

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is supporting a key element of President Bush’s proposed federal budget for 2008. The budget calls for the elimination of passenger ticket taxes on commercial airlines. If approved, the plan would dramatically impact who pays for the nation’s air traffic system, essentially shifting the costs from consumers to business and private aircraft companies by 2009.

“While the full details of President Bush’s proposed 2008 budget have not been released, it appears that business and leisure travelers will be the clear winners,” said Cheryl Hudak, ASTA president and CEO. “ASTA has long said that consumers should not unfairly shoulder the burden of subsidizing the airline industry. We are pleased to see that when it comes to this issue, we have friends in high places.”

Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) receives the bulk of its funding from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. This fund, in turn, receives approximately half of its money from a 7.5 percent tax levied on consumers’ airline tickets. This tax is in addition to a $3.40 segment fee paid by consumers for a domestic flight or a $15.10 international arrival and departure fee (both are adjusted annually for inflation).

Under Bush’s plan, the 7.5 percent tax would be eliminated. Corporate and private jet companies would continue to fund the trust through jet fuel taxes but these taxes would be increased to reflect their usage of the system. According to the FAA, private flights contribute only 3 percent to the trust but account for 11 percent of air traffic.

The Spa Set to Open in Cabo San Lucas

An upscale, themed spa is the newest addition to The Villa Group’s private enclave of villa-style resorts in Cabo San Lucas. Set to open in the summer, The Spa will join Villa La Estancia, Villa del Arco and Villa del Palmar in an exclusive setting that fronts El Medano Beach.

Currently in its final stage of construction, The Spa will be the largest and most elaborate facility in the entire state of Baja California and the Cabo San Lucas destination. Boasting a large array of treatments and specialties, the three-level, 31,000-square-foot Spa promises to provide something for every type of client visiting the resort location.

“We are pleased to make available this elegant new facility to our guests at Villa La Estancia, Villa del Arco and Villa del Palmar,” noted Ricardo Orozco, corporate director for The Villa Group in Cabo San Lucas. “The Spa has been designed to offer the ultimate experience through its tasteful design, upscale menu of treatments, state-of-the-art services and tranquil atmosphere.”

The Villa Group’s Spa will feature both mountain and ocean views. Designed in Mexican hacienda style, The Spa complements its natural setting with earthy tones, ample natural light and the scents and flavors of Baja. Amenities will include generous hydrotherapy centers for men and women including a spacious Jacuzzi, cold plunge pool, cold pressure showers, body temperature pool, steam room, sauna and Swiss showers. In addition, 17 treatment rooms, two exclusive VIP suites with private Jacuzzi and shower, a full-service beauty salon and extensive menu of exotic treatment services will set the stage for The Spa to be a haven for health, beauty, decompression and rejuvenation.

Within The Spa, a 4,500-square-foot fitness center will feature seven treadmills, four elliptical bikes, three stationary bikes, 10 strength-training stations, a multi-purpose station, four free-weight stations, a yoga/pilates studio with classes, lockers and showers.

Using a line of desert-inspired products created exclusively for The Spa, therapists will wrap, bathe and pamper guests with extracts of agave, lime, cactus, melon and vanilla. The Spa’s natural body products have been specially developed for their resorative powers.


Trafalgar Celebrates 60th

To celebrate its 60th birthday, Trafalgar is throwing a party and the prizes will go to travel agents. Agents can win up to $30,000 in the Sensational Trafalgar Sweepstakes. Every deposited booking made within one of three drawing periods provides a chance to win.

Entries through Feb. 28 are eligible for a Grand Prize Drawing of $10,000.

Entries from March 1 through April 30 are eligible for a Grand Prize Drawing of $20,000. And, entries from May 1 through June 30 are eligible for a Grand Prize Drawing of $30,000.

Entries will not be rolled over to the next drawing. Agents must be awarded an entry in each drawing period to qualify for that drawing.

“The big advantage for agents is that this sweepstakes takes place throughout the busy selling period,” says Trafalgar president John Severini, CTC. “Since agents receive an entry for every booking, they improve their chance of winning with every single sale. Agents need to take advantage of the huge demand in travel and convert sales to Trafalgar so that they can have multiple chances to win big throughout our three drawing periods.”

Winners will be chosen in random drawings from all eligible entries received during the drawing period. Prize winners will be notified within 10 days of the drawing by USPS, e-mail or fax (at Trafalgar’s discretion).


Travel Institute Training Offer

The Travel Institute is aiming to help agents kick-start their training in 2007. Agents will receive a $10 instant savings on orders placed between now and March 31. In order to start saving, visit Choose any product or course and enter promo code TENOFF (exactly as written) at checkout. As an added bonus, Travel Institute members, who log in to the bookstore using their username (member ID number) and password will receive their 10 percent member markdown in addition to the $10 off when applying the promo code TENOFF at checkout.