Marriott Curbs Trademark Abuse

*Southwest Returns to Denver
*Wilma Slams Cancun
*Virtuoso Restructures
*And more

Marriott International is introducing sweeping new policies to curb what it sees as abuse of its trademarks. The move will alter the way online and offline travel-sellers market the chain’s properties.

Oral Muir, Marriott’s director of global e-commerce channels, said the guidelines for online and off-line marketers will be introduced this month, and implemented by the end of the year.

“The substance will be very much the same,” Muir said, although the offline version will cover standards for using the company’s trademarks in print ads and brochures.

The guidelines, backed by a range of enforcement actions, stipulate that “an online travel company may not use any Marriott trademark in the text or title of any paid search ad.”

This would apply to paid ads in search engines such as Yahoo and Google, travel research Web sites such as Expedia’s TripAdvisor and, and comparison shopping sites such as NexTag or Sidestep, the guidelines note.

The trademark provisos apply to hotel brands Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites, Springhill Suites, Marriott Vacation Club, Ritz-Carlton, ExecuStay and Marriott Executive Apartments, as well as to the Marriott Rewards and Escape! Packages brands.

Online travel companies, according to Marriott’s rules, “may not bid on keyword terms containing Marriott trademarks, whether alone or in conjunction with other terms.”

In addition, Marriott wants to prohibit Web sites from using any Marriott trademark in a Web address without prior permission.

The standards also cover search-engine optimization, the tactics that many Web retailers use to pack their sites with words and phrases designed to trigger search-engine responses so that their site will appear higher among search results.

Southwest to Return to Denver in ’06

Southwest Airlines said it will begin service from Denver in early 2006, citing a dramatic reduction in costs at Denver International Airport, growth in the community and aircraft availability created by Hurricane Katrina-related schedule changes.

Southwest previously served the Denver market from 1983 to 1986 from Stapleton International Airport (which closed in 1995), and CEO Gary Kelly said that Southwest has been studying the possibility of a return for “quite some time.” Kelly added that the Denver Airport was ranked number one for on-time arrivals in 2004, “making the airport a great fit for Southwest’s quick aircraft turn times.”

Customers have been asking when Southwest would start to serve Colorado, especially since Southwest already is the largest operator at Chicago (Midway) and in California, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Southwest plans to soon release details of its Denver routes, schedule and pricing, and Kelly said that the airline hopes its Denver operation will eventually grow to more than 38 daily flights, the amount it currently offers from Seattle.

Hurricane Wilma Slams Cancun

After Hurricane Wilma battered Cancun, Mexico, officials took stock of the popular tourist spot and hoped for the best as the winter travel season approaches. President Vicente Fox said that after a couple of months of repair, as much as 90 percent of Cancun’s tourism capacity could be restored, according to reports, but others say with the amount of devastation, it could take much longer.

Already tens of thousands of tourists have been evacuated many from the U.S. The three Marriott resorts in Cancun will be closed through December, and the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, which also closed, isn’t taking reservations until next year, according to reports.

Last year, Cancun hosted 3 million visitors, officials say, and tourism brings Mexico $11 billion each year.

US Airways to Take Tour Line In-house

US Airways, newly merged with America West Airlines, decided to phase out its 11-year relationship with the Mark Travel Corp. and bring all of its US Airways Vacations operation in-house, beginning Dec. 13.

Mark Travel will continue to operate US Airways Vacations in the Caribbean and Europe until late spring 2006, though both sides say the date is flexible.

American, Lan, Get Antitrust Immunity

The Transportation Department recently granted antitrust immunity to a three-way alliance of American, LAN Peru and Chile’s Lan airlines.

The immunity allows for coordinated marketing and pricing, but the agency excluded revenue pooling or pricing, inventory and yield-management coordination for Miami-Lima where American and LAN Peru have the only nonstops.

Insight Offers Agency Referral Program

Insight Vacations has introduced its new Refer an Agent program in an effort to express continued support for the travel agent community.

When consumers call into Insight, they will be immediately asked if they would like to be referred to an Insight selling agent in their area. The company also plans to relaunch its Find an Agent search engine on their Web site by the end of this year.

Post Storm: Free Job Bank Assists Workers

During its first month of operation, the Web site received 5,000 job postings from more than 800 employers from across the country.

Travel companies such as Hyatt Hotels, Expedia and the Venetian Resort Casino are using a service known as “autoposting,” allowing the employers to post all of their available jobs to the Web site at once.

Developed jointly by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), in partnership with the Travel & Tourism Coalition and the Travel Business Roundtable, the free job bank was created to assist workers displaced by the storm. The Web site was designed and developed by

Virtuoso Restructures

Virtuoso, the luxury travel network, recently announced that the company is undertaking a significant corporate restructuring. All staff and departments are being realigned under three key areas: marketing, sales and operations. Officials say 90 percent of the previous staff remains with the company, but 95 percent of employees will have a change of title, duty or department.

Based on trade analysis that includes a report Virtuoso commissioned by industry experts, WeCan Partners, luxury spending in the U.S. will experience significant growth within the next five years. Virtuoso officials said that reorganization will help the company keep pace with demand and maintain relevance.

“We have organized Virtuoso to meet the demands of our members, their consultants and our preferred suppliers, while positioning us to handle the
opportunities and address the challenges ahead,” said Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso. “We sincerely believe that this bold move recognizes current talent, expands our talent pool and enables us to sustain our leadership position in the travel industry for many years to come.”

The executive team will report to Kristi Jones, president. Executive vice president and chief financial officer, David Hansen, will expand his role to executive vice president of operations, while Virtuoso is interviewing candidates for the exec-utive vice presidents of marketing and sales positions. Mauricio Leyton will become vice president of member sales, as Albert Herrera assumes the role of  vice president of hotels and resorts.

Keith Waldon, the branding executive behind Virtuoso’s name change five years ago, moves to vice president of alliances and travel clubs. Eli Weir will fulfill the role of vice president, technology.

Promoted to managing directors are Mary Kleen, cruise industry sales; Ann Van Leeuwen, sales consultant development; Jim Osborne, air/car/services; Cathy Holler, on-sites/tour/adventure/speciality operators; Terrie Lonergan, publishing; and Melisa Lunt, direct marketing.