TheTradeShow Travel Retail and Destination Expo took place Sept.
10-12 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.; and
it offered something for just about everyone. The first annual ASTA
event brought travel agents together with suppliers, industry
leaders and consumers, who were invited on the first day of the
show to hear live radio broadcasts and speakers, such as Conde Nast
Traveler’s Wendy Perrin and popular “European travel skills”
expert, Rick Steves.
Agents had plenty of opportunities to network and hold
appointments during the two-day open-floor trade show. Though some
suppliers found floor traffic a bit “slow,” others were heartened
by the interest level agents were showing in their product.
“We’ve had many agents come to learn about our business. That’s
why it’s so important for us to be here,” said Yimei Guo, general
manager for China Travel Service (U.S.A.), Inc.
Educational opportunities also abounded, with seminars on topics
ranging from home-based businesses to Hispanic markets. CLIA and
The Travel Institute presented a number of courses. And the
Technology Pavilion offered some hands-on seminars, such as “Search
Engine Optimization for Your Web site,” designed to boost agents’
One of the most popular Industry Sessions focused on the Cruise
Industry, and featured Terry Dale, president and CEO of Cruise
Lines International Association (CLIA), plus an impressive cruise
panel that included Lisa Bauer, Royal Caribbean International’s
senior vice president of sales; Mark Conroy, Regent Seven Seas
Cruises president; and Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales
and marketing, Carnival Cruise Lines.
The panel agreed that 2007 bookings seem to be coming in nicely,
but there’s still some softness in the fourth quarter of 2006.
“People are still wary of hurricanes,” noted Royal Caribbean’s
For agents, that means there’s still time to push those holiday
sailings. And everyone was reassured when the panel members
emphasized the ongoing importance of travel agents. Travel agent
bookings still represent a solid 85 percent of total cruise
bookings, said the panelists.
There was plenty of time for accolades at TheTradeShow as well.
The third annual black-tie Advocacy Dinner at the Portofino Hotel
lauded ASTA’s One Voice advocacy role before Congress and in state
legislatures. (Rolling back excessive taxes on rental car rates was
a big victory this year.)
A little merriment was also in store for the evening. It came in
the form of a special performance by cast members of the smash-hit
musical “Spamelot,” based on the film “Monty Python and the Holy
Grail.” With the help of some audience participation and sound
effects, the performers delivered a rousing rendition of the film’s
iconic theme, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
A motto most agents, no doubt, already take to heart.
By Ana Figueroa
Amadeus Addresses Northwest Airlines
Amadeus recently released a letter to travel professionals
regarding Northwest Airlines’ announcement to add a $3.50 surcharge
on all travel agency bookings made via the Amadeus System.
The letter stated that Amadeus has been engaged in legal actions
with Northwest over the parties’ contractual obligations, and a
hearing scheduled for Aug. 29, has been postponed, which “will give
Amadeus and Northwest further opportunity to come to a mutual
agreement regarding their ongoing commercial relationship.”
“As negotiations and legal proceedings are ongoing, we are not
able to provide additional comments or specific details on the
commercial issues or speculate on the future of any legal matters,”
the letter continued. “However, Amadeus has decided to extend the
interim relief measure to mitigate the economic impact of the
Northwest surcharge on your business.”
Beginning Sept. 1, Amadeus agreed to reimburse its agencies for
all of the announced segment surcharges incurred on both Northwest
and American Airlines bookings made via the Amadeus System. The
statement said that the GDS did not anticipate any impact to agency
incentives related to this interim relief measure.
Thrifty, ATA Offer ‘Triple Points’
Thrifty Car Rental recently joined ATA Airlines’ Travel Awards
program and will offer ATA Travel Awards members 75 points per car
rental when renting with Thrifty.
To kick off the program, Thrifty will offer triple points (225
points per rental) to Travel Awards members who rent a premium,
luxury, minivan, convertible or standard-size SUV for two days or
longer. The offer is available through Nov. 15 on qualifying
rentals booked via Thrifty’s Web site on the “Partner Specials”
“ATA Airlines and Thrifty Car Rental are a perfect match,” said
Brian Carpenter, vice president of sales, marketing and advertising
for Thrifty. “ATA’s philosophy of providing convenient travel at
affordable rates is compatible with Thrifty’s value proposition.
Consumers will benefit greatly from this relationship.”
AVC Makes Health Insurance Available
Affordable health insurance packages are now available for the
home-based independent contractors of America’s Vacation Center
Product offerings include major medical, limited medical, life
insurance, dental and vision insurance, accident/short-term
disability insurance, prescription discount card and more. Agents
will also be able to choose from a selection of insurance providers
such as AIG, Genworth and Assurity to offer comprehensive coverage
to travel professionals across the country. Agents can also receive
guidance in selecting the best package to meet their needs.
“This is another way we prove that at AVC, you’re in business
for yourself, but not by yourself,” said Brad Anderson,
co-president of AVC.
Hudak Sworn in as President and CEO of ASTA
Cheryl Hudak, CTC, owner of Travel Dimensions in Boardman, Ohio,
was elected as the president and CEO of the American Society of
Travel Agents (ASTA) Sept. 10, at TheTradeShow in Orlando, Fla.
Hudak will now begin her year-long term as ASTA’s national
president. Previously, Hudak served as national vice president.
A member of ASTA since 1986, Hudak currently serves as Chair of
Industry Affairs, as well as on TheTradeShow 2006 Committee, and
sits on the Akron Canton Airport Travel Agent Advisory Board. Hudak
has also served on ASTA’s Budget and Finance Committee, Future
Planning Committee and Tour Operators Program. Previously, Hudak
served on the Board of Directors as director of Area 7 (Allegheny,
Michigan and Mid-America). She chaired ASTA’s 2000 World Travel
Congress in Las Vegas. In 1994, she co-chaired the Society’s Super
Regional Conference in New York City, which drew 1,000 travel
agents from throughout the Midwest and East Coast.
In 1985, Hudak opened Travel Dimensions, and in 1996, she
purchased another agency to form a larger and more effective
business. Travel Dimensions is a full-service agency handling
leisure, corporate travel and cruises. In 1989, Hudak received her
Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) distinction from the Institute of
Certified Travel Agents (ICTA).
Hudak has served on the Alamo Car Rental advisory board, the
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and GEM advisory boards and Travel
Agent magazine’s advisory board. Additionally, Hudak currently
serves on Thrifty/Dollar Car Rental’s Advisory Board. Travel Agent
named Hudak one of the Most Powerful Women in Travel in 1999 and
one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Travel in 2000. She is also
the host of a half-hour radio show on travel.
Also elected were Mary Peters as vice president/secretary and
Mike McCulloh as treasurer.
NESTing in the Bahamas
The Network of Entrepreneurs Selling Travel (NEST) announced
that Nest Fest 2006 will include a three-day Bahamas cruise. The
second-annual conference will be held on Carnival’s Sensation Oct.
26-29 cruise, roundtrip from Port Canaveral, Fla.
The event includes guest speakers, product seminars from
preferred suppliers, sales and marketing training, a supplier trade
show and networking opportunities, including a “Welcome Aboard”
private cocktail reception sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines.
Nest Fest will also feature the Home-Based Success Series,
grassroots educational seminars giving home-based agents tips on
how to build successful group business, with speakers Kathleen
Kavanagh and Alleigh Grieder, along with representatives from Royal
Caribbean International/Celebrity Cruises. The series will be open
to all home-based agents.
Report: U.S. Tourism Gets a Boost
The U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) has announced
its new plan to strengthen the country’s competitiveness in the
world travel and tourism market. Through the report “Restoring
America’s Travel Brand: A National Strategy to Compete for
International Visitors,” the TTAB makes recommendations for drawing
visitors, ensuring hospitality and safety, having a nationally
coordinated marketing program and measuring the economic impact of
the tourism industry.
The strategies detailed will be reviewed by the Tourism Policy
Council, an interagency group consisting of 17 federal agencies and
chaired by U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez.
“Travel and tourism is a critical component to the U.S. economy
and the industry has made great strides in recovering from the
terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Gutierrez.
The Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN) has unveiled a new
version of its Web site.
The new site will feature more than 5,500 individual Web pages
designed for home-based travel agents, an online WelcomeCenter with
links to OSSN’s most requested aids, as well as tools and a new
navigation menu. These resources are designed to help members
search quickly through the thousands of pages of information OSSN
Previously only offered via mail or phone, an online version of
the OSSN Member Manual is now available, which quickly downloads
and reads like a printed book with the use of NXTbook software.
The upgrades are part of a nine-month redevelopment by OSSN and
Primary Hub, a Phoenix-based Web developer.
NACTA, Globus Family of Brands, Royal Caribbean International
and Celebrity Cruises are teaming up to bring home-based agents a
more intense fall season of Home-Based Success Series.
The four-hour events will include group, product, sales and
marketing training. Speakers include Alleigh Grieder, director of
sales and marketing, NACTA; Kathleen Kavanagh, home-based channel
manager, Globus Family of Brands; Joanie Ogg, CTC, president, NACTA
and Travelsellers.com; and a Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises
professional trainer who will show agents the benefits of
Upcoming seminars will be held in Minneapolis (Oct. 16); New
Orleans (Oct. 17); San Antonio, Texas (Oct. 18); Albuquerque, N.M.
(Oct. 19); and Las Vegas (Oct. 20). The series is open to all
home-based agency owners, staff travel agents and outside agents.
Registration is $15 and includes a breakfast. The registration
deadline is Oct. 13.