The Relaunch of SunTrips

*Airlines Rethink Cancun Routes
*Family Vacation Savings
*Preferred Boutiques

Crystal Hospitality Holdings recently contracted Valorem Group to develop its marketing and communications turnaround strategies in their bid to acquire SunTrips. Crystal is in the process of purchasing the California-based SunTrips, which over the last year has encountered issues with the travel agent community.

“We are excited about the opportunity to relaunch the SunTrips brand, and to spearhead the re-establishment of its relationship with the travel community,” said Victor Bao, president and CEO Valorem Group North America. “We are going to be very aggressive in our efforts to regain SunTrips’ footing in their market space as well as re-establishing it as one of the premier operators in the United States.”

Several travel agents recently told TravelAge West that SunTrips has continued to delay payments on agent commissions and hotels have refused or canceled SunTrips’ reservations, causing some agents to lose faith in the company.

Miami-based Valorem is a hotel representation, communications and marketing firm of international hospitality clients in the U.S. market.

Airlines Rethink Cancun Routes

Many U.S. airlines are postponing plans for new service to resort destinations in Mexico because of hurricane-related damage. Some carriers plan to sit out an entire year on certain routes.

USA 3000, citing hurricane-related damage in Cancun and Cozumel and the “resulting scarcity of available hotel rooms,” told the Department of Transportation it is postponing the relaunch of seasonal service from Detroit and St. Louis to Cozumel until Dec. 15.

USA 3000 also told the DOT it no longer plans to operate service from Baltimore and St. Louis to Puerto Vallarta, which were markets it had planned to debut this winter; and from Washington Dulles to Cancun, which was a market slated for launch this summer.

Cancun is a big market for the airline, and officials said the airline has not abandoned it. USA 3000 is still flying into Cancun from most of its markets, although at a slightly reduced level.

But Cancun still has a lot of rebuilding to do. At best, half of Cancun’s hotel rooms are open, airline officials said.

USA 3000 isn’t the only airline forced to cut back. Spirit told the DOT it plans to start Tampa-Cancun service around June 30, more than seven months later than it originally planned. Similarly, the Orlando-Cancun service Spirit had planned to start last December and the Dallas-Cancun service it had hoped to start in February have both been pushed back to the end of the year.
American’s seasonal St. Louis-Cancun and Boston-Cancun service will wait for next season, starting sometime around Dec. 1.

AirTran had planned to start Atlanta-Cancun service last December and Tampa-Cancun this March. Now it is pushing the start dates for both routes to Dec. 15.

US Airways said it plans to resume Pittsburgh-Cancun service in late May or in June and Philadelphia-Cozumel in December. Its Fort Lauderdale-Cancun service resumed Jan. 31.

Family Vacation Savings

Whether it’s spring break with the kids or a summer trip with extended family, travelers can now book with Globus to save money on their next family vacation.

Those who book a 2006 Globus Family Vacation to Europe, North America and Costa Rica from Feb. 1-March 31, will receive $100 off per person on travel before Dec. 3.

Packages include Essential Europe, Italy’s Great Cities, Hawaiian Splendor, America’s Historic East and Natural Wonders of Costa Rica.

Prices start at $1,099 per person for land only and $2,025 per person for all-inclusive trips.

Preferred Boutiques

The Preferred Hotel Group has launched Boutique a preferred hotel group partner. The Boutique collection of hotels promises exceptional service, distinctive style and 150 rooms or less in each property.

“Our goal is to create a significant increase in a property’s revenue and visibility,” said managing director Lindsey Ueberroth. “We believe that the combination of the right properties in the right destinations is crucial to the success of Boutique, establishing lasting trust with both hoteliers and consumers.”

The Boutique collection currently features 50 properties located mainly in the U.S. with goals to grow to 100 properties worldwide.

Asta Survey: Top Travel Destinations

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) recently announced the results of a survey conducted on the “best value” travel destinations. In addition, agents identified popular up-and-coming destinations as well as agents’ favorite domestic and international spots.

Ranking first on the top 10 list of “best value” destinations is Mexico, with Mayan Riviera accounting for one-third of the votes. Orlando helped boost Florida’s percentage, coming in at number three. The additional top 10 destinations, in order, were Las Vegas, cruises, Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Jamaica, Canada, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and China.

The top three up-and-coming destinations were Costa Rica, followed by Dominican Republic. China and South America were a close third.


The Incentive Show one of the East Coast’s top gathering for incentives, meetings and promotional products will be held May 3-4 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. Attendees can hear former general Colin L. Powell’s keynote address and experience a range of incentive products and programs, network with industry leaders and attend more than 15 free seminars.

Record Commissions

Marriott International broke its record for commissions paid to agents in 2005 by paying over $177 million.

“We celebrated our 100,000 Hotel Excellence graduate and now this milestone in commissions,” said spokesman Fred Miller.

Selling Travcoa

Luxury travel operator Travcoa announced changes to the structure of its sales department. Travcoa and its sister company, TCS Expeditions, are combining their agency sales force to expand their sales support. The newly created departments will be organized under western, southern and northern regions each reporting to the newly appointed director of sales and business development, Timo Shaw.