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In this issue’s cover story, “Cuba’s Buzz may Have a Sting” (page 10), we examine the impact of recent changes to the restrictions on travel to Cuba. In particular, we take a look at the implications that these changes could have for travel agents.
Earlier this year, these rule changes sparked a flurry of excitement as several tour operators announced that they were initiating programs to the island. Since then, the excitement has worn off a bit — at least for now. When it comes to Cuba, we are always on the edge of our seats waiting for the politics to be resolved. Any time there is even the slightest rumor about changes in policy our editorial mailboxes are flooded by questions and writers’ queries. I think the fascination that U.S. travelers have with Cuba is partly because unexplored (at least for U.S. citizens) destinations are getting harder and harder to find — not to mention that this particular unexplored destination is so close to home, yet still so far away.
One of the pitfalls of this eagerness to explore a new frontier is the risk that you will unknowingly be sending clients into a vacation nightmare. This makes it all the more important then that, if you do send a client to Cuba or any other exotic locale, you use a reputable and trustworthy supplier such as the ones we mention in the cover story. In fact, this is a good rule of thumb in nearly all situations.
As I write this, I’m at the Signature Travel Network conference in Las Vegas with 1,200 agents and more than 700 suppliers. These suppliers — many of them preferred suppliers with Signature — are the type of partners that travel agents can truly trust when selling an exotic or somewhat risky travel destination, including Cuba. These companies have invested in the travel agent sales force, and have proven themselves to be reliable in a wide range of situations.
The next time you hear about a change in the rules regarding travel to Cuba, take a look and see how your preferred suppliers are handling the information. When trailblazing in new territory, you always want trustworthy partners lending you a hand.