Friday, June 11, 2010

Travel news travel needs end here
Star Clippers to return to Antigua as security improves
Star Clippers pulled out of Antigua in January after the murder of a passenger during a port call. The sailing ship line plans to return to the Caribbean hot spot in November. "Star Clippers has been assured by the Antiguan government that they have improved security on the island, particularly in the areas where our guests visit," said Jack Chatham, president of Star Clippers Americas. USA TODAY/The Cruise Log blog (6/9)
Viking River Cruises makes all components commissionable
Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking River Cruises, said "it's the principle" when explaining the company has made every component of its river cruises, including port charges, airline surcharges and taxes, commissionable. Viking is planning to launch an ad campaign next week that states, "Say hello to more profits and goodbye to NCFs." Travel Weekly (6/9) , TravelAge West (6/9)
Marriott had its first room-rate increases in 2 years in May
Marriott International reported its average room rates at North American hotels increased during May for the first time in two years. Rates increased by 1% compared with the same month a year ago, and revenue per available room increased by 9%, adding to sentiment the lodging industry might be inching toward recovery. Reuters (6/8)
Other News
Continental postpones onboard Internet access
Travel Weekly (6/9)
Union says more strikes by British Airways cabin crew are possible
Bloomberg Businessweek/The Associated Press (6/9)
Travel Protection Plans Designed for Travel Industry Employees — Eligible for industry-free/reduced-rate travel benefits? You may be eligible to purchase Insider's Club plans! ANNUAL plans begin at USD 26.95. Plans include travel accident protection, baggage protection and more. Visit for details and to enroll today!
Trends and Technology
Ypartnership's newest market segment: "tribes"
Travel marketers long have split up the market based on a variety of demographics, preferences and other information. Ypartnership and the Harrison Group are now identifying leisure travelers in a new way, splitting them into four tribes. For example, "sensationals" are travelers who focus on adventure. Travel Weekly (6/7)
Hotel executives discuss the importance of relationships with agents
Executives from hotel chains discuss their efforts to build relationships with travel agents, stressing their importance. "Working with travel agents is vital to our business, as they really are Banyan Tree's ambassadors to our guests," said David Woodward, regional director, marketing–Eastern USA for Banyan Tree. "Travel agents are key to our success. They are the experts and specialists who have the greatest ability to influence travelers' buying decisions." (6/10)
Column: Rental-car firms follow airlines' lead on fees
Columnist Bill McGee says that while airlines have raised billions of dollars from ancillary fees in recent years, rental-car companies also have been charging their customers a range of fees, albeit more quietly. Avis, for example, has reported a 12% increase in domestic ancillary revenues. It's becoming increasingly difficult for travelers to determine the total rate of a rental car and the trend is expected to continue. USA TODAY (6/9)
Home-Based Agent Update

Virtual assistants can help independent agents thrive
Independent travel agents, like other business owners, face peaks and valleys, both of which can make them wonder why they got into the industry. But virtual assistants can help agents cope with the busier times, including Wave Season and the holidays. Virtual assistants also can be available on an as-needed basis. For example, when the volcanic ash from Iceland disrupted flights across Europe and beyond, agents could have tapped virtual assistants to man the phones or make hotel reservations for stranded travelers. Travel Agent (6/3)
Optimize Online Training for Maximum Impact
Download this free white paper from Citrix to learn how to best optimize your online training programs. Topics covered include how to stay up-to-date with technology, and identify opportunities for refining online training practices. Click Here to download.

Consumer Travel News
Ramallah emerges as a West Bank hot spot
Ramallah, West Bank, might not have Bethlehem's holy mystique, but it has become the latest must-see destination on the West Bank for young Europeans, North Americans and others. The Palestinian city features restored Ottoman buildings, skyscrapers and art deco homes. Ramallah attracts young travelers with the sophisticated culture of its restaurants and night spots. The New York Times (free registration) (6/3)
Regulatory and Legislative
DOT's proposals to benefit travelers, agents, ASTA says
Paul Ruden, senior vice president of legal and industry affairs at ASTA said the Department of Transportation's proposed passenger-protection rules will benefit travelers as well as travel agents. "This rule making is remarkable in both the scope and depth of the changes that would be required to improve the passenger experience," Ruden said. He noted the proposals are largely consistent with ASTA recommendations. Travel Agent (6/9)
Are you paying too much?
Any firm with annual sales greater than $200,000 should be running a balance sheet at least quarterly. ASTA's financial tools let members benchmark themselves against the industry on such budget items as salaries and operating expenses. Learn where you sit compared to the competition with ASTA's Financial Tools.
Best Practices
4 ways to reduce your tax bill during peak-profit years
Businesses should consider spending on capital expenditures and reinvestment to cut their tax bill during big-earning years, writes Mike McGervey. He also suggests forming an S corporation and saving through defined-contribution plans.'s Tip blog (6/4)
Featured Content

Top 10 Social Media "Power Friending" Tips Amber MacArthur
High-Value Employee Benefits at a Reasonable Cost Julie Rains
How You Can Leverage Your Business by Targeting "Congruent Needs" Vincent Fernando, CFA
How to be All Things to All Customers Rohit Bhargava
Things to Consider Before Uprooting Your Business Nora Dunn

ASTA Spotlight
Register for IDE by June 30 to win
Attend the International Destination Expo from April 14 to 17 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to become the Caribbean expert your clients desire. Attending will allow you to boost your sales to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean with an unparalleled educational program designed to make you a destination expert along with hands-on training that includes complimentary sightseeing of San Juan and cruise ship inspections. Register before June 30 for a chance to win a free two-night pre- or post-conference hotel stay. Limited quantities available. Limited time offer. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Read the rules and regulations.
Make your website a consumer magnet
So you've hopped on the technology train and launched your own travel website. What do you do when no one's coming to your site or traffic is coming in at a turtle's pace? Today's technology age has swept across every imaginable industry. More consumers are shopping online. They're looking at product reviews, selling and trading, comparing prices and much more with a few mouse clicks. The travel business is no different. In order to keep consumers coming to your site, there are several things you need to make your site sticky. Check out ASTA's Top 10 Ways to Make Your Site a Consumer Magnet, to get your website back on track.

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