Runaway Ceases Operationsbr

*ASTA on the Air
*Fairmont Under Siege
*And More...

Runaway Tours, the San Francisco-based tour wholesaler specializing in Hawaii and Mexico, will “wind down operations and cease operations” after 37 years in business, according to the company.

Runaway will honor reservations paid in full through February. Clients who have booked travel with the company for dates later than Feb. 28 will receive refunds, the company said.

Ed Jackson, Runaway president and CEO, was not immediately available for comment. However, in a statement he said that “taking care of our clients and vendors is our main priority. We are winding down, but we are not closing our doors.”

Meanwhile, other tour operators including Classic Vacations, Blue Sky Tours, Creative Leisure and Funjet Vacations will help agents rebook Runaway itineraries.

Blue Sky Tours

Classic Vacations

Creative Leisure

Funjet Vacations

Runaway Tours


ASTA Hits the Airwaves

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has taken to the satellite radio airwaves to offer consumers travel advice.

ASTA president and CEO Kathy Sudeikis is one of about 15 ASTA agents that are featured in a series of 26 weekly two-minute radio spots, which launched Jan. 2, that are part of the daily “Traveling with Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman” program. The show is produced by the 4th Street Media Group for Discovery Channel Radio, and is broadcast on Channel 119 on the Sirius Satellite Radio network at 10 p.m. weeknights.

Working with the ASTA members, “we are able to offer a genuine service to our listeners. It gives us the chance to prove the practical value of working with a travel professional when planning travel,” Lasley said.

“By broadcasting on satellite radio, ASTA members can not only provide listeners across the country with helpful travel tips but can connect with a new demographic younger Americans with disposable income that they otherwise might not be able to reach as easily. We’re really excited to be working with Paul and Elizabeth, two of the travel media’s consummate professionals,” added Sudeikis in a statement.

In addition to the satellite radio show, Lasley and Harryman also host “The Travel Show,” a live talk-radio program heard on KABC, Los Angeles; and “OnTravel,” a series of radio spots on travel-related topics broadcast on XM Satellite Radio channels several times a day.


Survey: Certified Agents Make More

The results from Travel Professional magazine’s 15th annual survey again showed that certified travel professionals earned more and sold more in 2005. Agents who earned their CTC or CTIE designation saw a 5 percent pay increase, while non-certified agents showed a 6 percent decrease from 2004, according to the survey.

Because of the results, the Travel Institute Fund is offering $135 scholarships to those who enroll in CTC classes by Jan. 31. The $50 fee for the CTC Challenge, the prerequisite for those who have not earned their CTA designation, is also being waived.


Agent Incentives

Castle Resorts & Hotels announced the launch of its 2006 travel agent incentive program, “5 for 50,” which rewards agents with a $50 bonus for every five consecutive nights booked at participating Castle properties.

“Travel agents are an integral part of our business, and we want to thank them for supporting Castle Resorts throughout Hawaii,” said Sheree Moffat, vice president of sales. “Nearly half of our customers are influenced and book through travel agents.”

The program is valid on bookings made after Jan. 1 for travel through Dec. 22.


Fairmont Under Siege

One of North America’s largest luxury hotel companies is under siege.

New York billionaire Carl Icahn, ranked by Forbes as the 28th-richest American, first attempted in mid-November to take over Fairmont Hotels & Resorts by bidding $1.9 billion for a 51 percent stake of shares.

Rejected by the company’s board, Icahn indicated he may now propose buying Fairmont outright.

Fairmont board chairman Peter C. Godsoe said a special committee is “actively exploring” its alternatives, which may include a transaction with one or more third parties.


‘Sensational’ Sweepstakes

To boost bookings, Trafalgar Tours has announced the Sensational Trafalgar Sweepstakes with multiple drawings worth up to $20,000 cash and free European vacations as prizes. Agents receive one entry for every booking with a collected deposit within 10 days, and there’s no limit on the amount of entries an agent can have.

Entries through Feb. 15 are entered to win $10,000. The Feb. 16-March 31 sweepstakes has a grand prize of $15,000, and the sweepstakes through May 15 offers a prize of $20,000. European trips for two are also up for grabs in the three sweepstakes.