Retirement for Pleasent's Irwin

Tim Irwin, president and chief executive officer of Pleasant Holidays, announced that he is retiring at the end of 2007. “I hope that by telling everyone I’m leaving a full year in advance, I’ll avoid the two things the travel industry dislikes most namely, change and surprises,” he said. Irwin wil

Tim Irwin, president and chief executive officer of Pleasant Holidays, announced that he is retiring at the end of 2007.

“I hope that by telling everyone I’m leaving a full year in advance, I’ll avoid the two things the travel industry dislikes most namely, change and surprises,” he said.

Irwin will dedicate the next 12 months to making the leadership transition as smooth as possible.

“I want to allow enough time to properly select a successor,” he said. “I also want to make sure that the great relationships our company has established throughout the industry are maintained.”

Meanwhile, he said, Pleasant will continue to concentrate on initiatives that move it forward, from technological advancements to cost-cutting initiatives. “In the past year I’ve been particularly proud of how we’ve strengthened the bench,” Irwin said. “I have a great team of vice presidents, and I’m confident in their ability to carry on once I leave.”

Irwin joined Pleasant in 2002 after nearly 35 years with the Automobile Club of Southern California. Under his direction, Pleasant has steadily broadened its product beyond its original emphasis on Hawaii.

“Two years ago we became the number-one tour operator for Tahiti, and we’ve been recognized as a strong player in Mexico,” Irwin said. “We’ve known that expansion to destinations beyond Hawaii has been key to our growth.” Under Irwin’s direction, Pleasant’s reputation has evolved from a mass-market budget company to a source of higher-quality travel products. Concurrently, the company has raised its level of service to travel agents, consumers and industry partners.

Irwin shies away from the spotlight, however.

“All of these accomplishments have been a company effort,” he said. “I just get to take the credit.

“We’ve built on the foundation that Ed and Lynn Hogan laid down when they started Pleasant,” Irwin said. “I’m confident the future president will do the same.” Don’t expect Irwin to disappear from view when he steps down from his Pleasant post next December.

“The travel industry is a very important part of my life,” he said. “I see it as a peacemaking industry, and I want to find ways to remain involved in that aspect of it.”

Pamela Conover Named Seabourn President, CEO

Cruise industry executive Pamela C. Conover has been named president and chief executive officer of Seabourn Cruise Line, the Miami-based, luxury brand owned by Carnival Corporation & plc. She will report to Carnival vice chairman Howard Frank.

Conover has been serving as acting president of Seabourn since the company’s late president Deborah L. Natansohn suffered a heart attack on Oct. 22. Conover most recently served as senior vice president of shared services at Carnival Corporation, where, among other duties, her market research and strategic analysis resulted in an order for two new ships for Seabourn.

“I am extremely gratified to be offered the helm at Seabourn at this exciting juncture,” said Conover. “Seabourn’s two new, state-of-the-art ships will represent the next evolution of the ultra-luxury segment, and except for the tragic circumstances I couldn’t be happier about returning.”

“Pam brings a wealth of experience to Seabourn and I am confident that she will continue Debbie Natansohn’s record of making Seabourn the best luxury brand in the cruise industry,” said Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corporation & plc.

Conover previously served as president and chief operating officer of Cunard Line Limited, which operated the fleets of both Seabourn and Cunard, from 2001 until the two brands were separated in 2004. In that role, she oversaw the building and launch of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and the strategic restructuring and rebranding of Seabourn’s three-ship fleet.

“Pam has consistently delivered for us in a number of executive roles. Her experience at expanding a luxury brand and her skilled advocacy of customers, employees and travel agency partners ensures the success of Seabourn’s plan for growth in the luxury segment,” said Frank.

The role at Seabourn is Conover’s third cruise line presidency. In 1994, she served as president and chief executive officer of Epirotiki Line, based in Athens, Greece, until she was recruited to join Carnival Corporation as vice president of strategic planning. At Carnival, she engineered the acquisition of assets including Seabourn, Cunard and Costa Cruises as a part of the corporate development strategy.

Conover lives in Key Biscayne, Fla., with her husband, Ray Lutz, a former travel industry executive.

New Seminars Added to IDE-Asia

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has added more seminars to the schedule for the upcoming International Destination Expo (IDE). The IDE will take place in Jeju, Korea, March 25-29. It will feature the following in addition to previously announced seminars: DS Jeju, Korea: A Beautiful Escape! presented by Suh Yong-Kun and William Cannon Hunter; Experience the Dynamism and Beauty of Korea, courtesy of Daegu Metropolitan City Tourism Division; The Potential of Incheon as a Favored Tourist Destination, courtesy of Incheon Metropolitan City Tourism Division; and Korea, Up Close and Personal, presented by Sung Woock Cho and Korean suppliers.

“Korea-specific seminars are an important component of IDE, and critical to the experience of travel agents who attend in order to become destination specialists,” said ASTA President and CEO Cheryl Hudak, CTC. “There’s no better way to learn how to sell Korea than from Korean travel professionals.”

Those who register for DS Jeju, Korea: A Beautiful Escape! will learn about “The Island of World Peace,” home to a world-class convention center. Experience the Dynamism and Beauty of Korea is offered in two sessions. This seminar includes details on Ulleungdo Island and the cities of Pohang, Yeongcheon, Yeongdeok and Uljin, as well as Korea’s ancient capital, Gyeongju. The Potential of Incheon as a Favored Tourist Destination, presented by Lee Seung Hak, will explore Incheon as the gateway to Northeast Asia.

At Korea, Up Close and Personal, agents will learn how to sell the history and culture of Korea, and representatives from Korean airline carriers and hotels will share information about their agent support programs. Participants will also get the inside scoop from an experienced tour operator.

Dollar And Thrifty Join Gold Crown Club
Dollar Rent A Car and Thrifty Car Rental are welcoming members of Best Western’s Gold Crown Club International (GCCI) loyalty program. Dollar and Thrifty have joined the hotel chain’s frequency club as preferred partners, offering Gold Crown Club members 1,000 points per rental at all participating Dollar Rent A Car and Thrifty Car Rental locations worldwide. To receive GCCI points, members will need to request them at the time of rental and provide their membership number. A hotel stay is not required, and some limitations may apply.

Additionally, GCCI members may earn points when they park at any one of 24 Thrifty Car Rental airport locations. Members who park three times at participating Thrifty Airport Parking facilities within a 12-month period will receive 250 points. Some limitations may apply. Many locations also offer amenities such as auto detailing and valet parking.

Best Western’s Gold Crown Club loyalty program is an international travel club that allows members from across the globe to earn points towards an extensive array of product and service awards.

Be a Kid Again at Disneyland Resort
Clients can rediscover the perks of being a kid at Disneyland Resort next year. Those traveling between Jan. 3 and April 26 will receive a three-day or longer Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Bonus Ticket at the kids’ price. In addition, clients who stay a minimum of four nights will also receive a free $150 Disney Gift Card that can be used at selected shops and food locations throughout Disneyland Resort.

Disneyland Resort vacation packages include roundtrip airfare on United Airlines, three nights’ accommodations at a Disneyland Resort hotel and a three-day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Bonus Ticket at the Child Rate. This offer is available for immediate bookings.

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy. All prices are based on standard room rates. Alternate origin cities and travel dates are available. These tickets expire 13 days after the first day of use or May 9, whichever comes first, and each day of use constitutes one full day of use. Disney Gift Card offer is valid for arrivals Jan. 3-April 22.

Protests Affect Tourism in Oaxaca
Several foreign embassies have warned their citizens to avoid travel to the Mexican city of Oaxaca, much to the dismay of the local tourism industry. The area is known for its traditional arts and crafts, making it a popular tourist destination for those seeking handmade woven goods and wood carvings, but leftist protestors have taken over the city for the past five months, demanding the resignation of the regional governor and other reforms. The protestors have clashed with federal police near the city center on numerous occasions, prompting the embassies of the United States, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom to issue advisories against travel to the region.

Although confrontations quieted down after police retook the city center in early November, demonstrators still maintain a heavy presence in the city.