Seabourn President Remembered By Colleagues

*Iran Pays Visitors
*Latest Spa Trends
*OSSN Voices Concerns

Deborah L. Natansohn, the president and chief operating officer of Seabourn Cruise Line, passed away on Oct. 24 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after suffering a heart attack. Natansohn, 53, was a pioneer in the cruise industry, as well as at Seabourn, where she held the post of president since July 2004.

Natansohn began making news long before her tenure at Seabourn. In 1998, she became the first woman to serve as president of a cruise line in the United States, when she took over the helm of Orient Lines. She also served in positions at Pearl Cruises and Cunard Line.

“All of us are shocked and saddened by this tragic and untimely event. Debbie was certainly taken from us long before her time. Her accomplishments were many but a highlight of her career was leading the sales and marketing effort for the incredibly successful launch of the Queen Mary 2. And at Seabourn, Debbie’s excellent management skills led to a strengthened brand that resulted in us placing a half-a-billion-dollar order for two ships, something no one would have ever envisioned three years ago,” said Micky Arison, chairman and CEO, Carnival Corporation & plc.

Natansohn began her career as a journalist, and also served as marketing director for Travellers International and Arthur Frommer International. She was also quite active with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), serving on both the marketing and executive committees. And, her professional activities earned her numerous awards.

Natansohn held a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Journalism from the State University of New York, Albany, and had participated in the executive education program at Harvard Business School. She was the president of The Commonwealth Institute, South Florida, and a member of the International Women’s Forum.

A native of New York, Natansohn is survived by her parents, brother, two sisters, a niece and nephew.

Iran To Pay Incentives To Attract Westerners
According to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran plans to offer cash incentives to travel agencies to encourage Western tourists to visit the country, offering a premium for Americans. The proposal came at the same time that the United Nations Security Council was deliberating a draft resolution to impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities.

The proposal (which includes a $20 per person payment for those who attract Western tourists) is meant to demonstrate that the Islamic Republic has no quarrel with U.S. citizens. On the contrary, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier this year proposed that direct flights between Iran and the United States be resumed. Flights have been suspended for more than 25 years, and the United States and Iran severed diplomatic relations in 1979.

Spa Finder Announces Spa Trends for 2007
Spa Finder, Inc., the global spa resource, has announced its fourth annual prediction of spa industry trends that will shape the world of spa in 2007. Based on widespread consumer input, extensive travel by the company’s Luxury SpaFinder Magazine and editorial staff, below are some of Spa Finder’s “10 Spa Trends to Watch for in 2007”:

Sleep A New Dawn in Spa Health.Look for hotels and resorts to put even greater emphasis on creating ideal sleep environments through minimal light and sound, aromatherapy, ultra-relaxing spa treatments and more. At destination spas (some of which already offer sleep programs) sleep specialists will help educate, diagnose and treat sleep apnea, insomnia and other disorders.

Medical Tourism In Search of Affordable Health. Medical wellness and cosmetic med spas are doing booming business by filling certain critical gaps in the traditional healthcare system. In 2007 more and more people will travel to another city, state or country for medical spa experiences, creating a new trend: medical tourism.

Move Into a Spa Lifestyle Community and Bring the Kids. Spa Finder identified the genesis of the spa real estate trend at the end of 2004, and is currently tracking 200 such properties in various stages of development. This growth will continue in 2007 as spa residences move beyond the realm of aging baby boomers to attract younger families with children.

How Green Is My Spa? Consumers are now considering a spa’s committment to green principles. They are also eager for education about local cultures and healing traditions and looking for spas committed to sustainability concepts. In short, spas and spa consumers are getting serious about terms like natural, organic, holistic, green, eco-friendly and sustainable.

Unprecedented Revenue Expected for Hilton’S Web sites
Hilton Hotels Corporation expects more than $2.5 billion in revenues to be generated from bookings on its proprietary Web sites for the year 2006, compared to $709 million five years ago. The company further reports that bookings through its Web sites have increased at a steady 30 percent per year since 2002, and accelerated to a 39 percent increase in the third quarter of 2006 versus the third quarter of 2005. This represents a 60 percent increase in revenues and a 43 percent increase in room nights for the third quarter 2006 compared to the prior year.

OSSN Voices Concerns About ‘super Web site’
The Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN) has asked the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) not to bypass traditional home-based travel agents with its new “super Web site” planned with Travelocity. In a letter to the CTO, the president and founder of OSSN, Gary M. Fee, asks for a “full, complete, detailed and public explanation of this project and the degree to which U.S. travel agents will be involved before the site’s announced debut in mid-November.”

Fee also noted in his letter that the timing of the site’s debut is unfortunate, given the current battle being waged by Caribbean leaders with U.S. officials over the new U.S. passport requirements that could hurt Caribbean tourism levels in 2007 and beyond. OSSN plans to follow up by determining how the site’s functions will affect home-based agents in North America who book the Caribbean.

In response to the concerns of OSSN, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, CTO’s secretary general, noted that the CTO has had a booking engine on its site for several years, so this is not a new feature.

“Travel agents have been, are, and will continue be very important to the Caribbean even while the unrelenting march of technology makes more information, more products and more pricing more accessible to consumers,” he stated.

Vanderpool-Wallace also noted that Travelocity’s TripTailer travel agent booking tool allows travel agents to book packages to earn commissions as well as their own service fees.

OSSN is the largest trade association in North America dedicated to serving the needs of home-based travel agents.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car To Plant 50 Million Trees in National Forests
Enterprise Rent-A-Car has made an unprecedented gift to The National Arbor Day Foundation to commemorate the company’s 50th Anniversary. Enterprise will underwrite the planting of 50 million trees over the next 50 years at a total cost of $50 million in today’s dollars. The Enterprise Rent-A-Car 50 Million Tree Pledge partners The National Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service with Enterprise in a long-term commitment to help restore public lands that are badly in need of reforestation. The ceremonial first trees of the Pledge several small white pines were planted by First Lady Laura Bush. The trees will be planted permanently in the Mark Twain National Forest in southern Missouri.

“This gift couldn’t come at time of greater need,” said John Rosenow, president of The National Arbor Day Foundation. “Last year was the worst forest-fire season in history. And, unfortunately, 2006 is on pace to be even worse. This gift from Enterprise the largest gift we’ve ever received gives us the flexibility to respond quickly to forests damaged not only by fire, but also by storms, disease and other causes.”

Each year for the next 50 years, with funding provided by the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, The National Arbor Day Foundation will work with the U.S. Forest Service to plant 1 million trees in National Forests around the country. These trees will help forests affected by natural disasters and disease, as well as rebuild and preserve habitats for endangered species. The grant also will fund tree-planting initiatives in international locations where Enterprise does business, including Europe and Canada.

Air Consolidator Offers Online Booking Engine
Fare Buzz, the leading provider of consolidated airfares available exclusively to travel agents and corporate travel planners, is offering travel agents the opportunity to integrate the company’s popular booking engine into the agent’s own Web site for an initial set-up fee of only $350 (regularly $650). The Fare Buzz reservations system provides 24/7 access to low consolidator air fares and GDS rates, as well as hotel and car rental rates, and trip insurance. Fare Buzz is waving standard set-up fees for the hotel and car modules, and is also reducing the monthly maintenance charge for agents who join by Jan. 31. Agents preset (and retain) their own markups on air tickets. Fare Buzz splits commissions on hotel and car rentals 50/50 with the agents, and also offers 10 percent commission on travel insurance sales.