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A voluntourism deal in the Maldives

(Hotels) Permanent link

Resort company Six Senses has a deal for Maldives vacationers who want to give something back.

For the next six months, Six Senses is offering five nights of a 10-night stay for free at the Soneva Fushi or Soneva Gili resorts, if guests spend five hours of each day working on local community projects, such as marine conservation, teaching children, planting trees and learning how to turn waste into wealth.

"Guests now have the chance to see behind-the-scenes and discover how much more there is to the wonderfully hospitable and cultural Maldivian atolls," said Six Senses.

For further information, contact Sophy Williams, Soneva’s marketing manager, at sophy@sixsenses.com.

Wanted: Tanning butler

(Hotels) Permanent link

It’s nice to know that some companies are still hiring. Take the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, which is prepping to bring on a new tanning butler, according to CNN.

A what, you say?

Well, we’ve mentioned the concept in stories about the Ritz-Carlton. But to recap: The oceanfront hotel’s poolside employee is a guy (the CNN report referred to the type as "hunky male models") who mans the property’s pool and beach areas wearing shorts, a tanning butler T-shirt and a holster filled with bottles of suntan lotion, which he’ll offer to apply to Ritz-Carlton guests in need of coverage.

Anyway, the story is that there’s only one tanning butler in the world ... except now, when there’s none. The previous butler has quit for an Armani modeling gig in Italy, CNN says.

According to the report, the job pays $20 an hour plus tips for the four-hour shift. Expect to see the want ads on Craigslist or in the Miami Herald — unless word on the beach has already generated a flurry of resumes.

The last word on 'The Travel Agent is Dead'

(Travel agents) Permanent link

Australian travel insurance company iTrek’s "The Travel Agent is Dead" promotion is dead. But the company apparently didn’t want to leave the ring without taking a few last jabs at those responsible for its demise.

On its website, iTrek acknowledged that it had halted the contest, which invited consumers to submit 30-second videos illustrating the theme, following an outcry from agents and iTrek’s insurance underwriter, Chartis.

Chartis is the parent company of Travel Guard, an insurance company that relies on travel agent sales. Travel Guard said last week that it had persuaded iTrek to terminate the promotion.

But it was obvious from iTrek’s website that the company wasn’t too pleased. "Unfortunately," iTrek reported, the contest "has come to a tragic and premature end due to hostile response from travel agents in both the USA and Australia."

"There has been a biblical overreaction by travel agents to this marvelous competition," iTrek said.

"Itrek is up to 50% cheaper than a travel agent, and they did not want this message to be heard by you, the Australian public. This will be exposed."

Although the promotion is RIP, perhaps we should paint the contest as only "mostly dead." While the company canceled an event at which the finalists' videos were to be shown, iTrek said it would still judge entries and award prizes.

"The pressure that was put on our underwriter to withdraw support for this competition was of the highest degree," iTrek protested.

Maybe. But we wonder if Travel Guard would quibble with the notion that Chartis had offered any "support" in the first place.

Tripology plays coy

(Travel agents) Permanent link

Tripology, a lead-generation service for agents, said last month that it had signed a letter of intent to be acquired (after a previous investor declined to fund the company), but Tripology declined to reveal the identity of its white knight.

Supposedly the "deal is done," but the company is still playing coy. On Wednesday, CEO John Peters posted a rhyming riddle on its agent blog, under the subject "A clue or two from Tripology."

Following the poem, Peters went a little further.

"Do you need a hint?" he wrote. "This company will guide you from here to there. They know the world better than most; the places, the borders, the geographies. Like Atlas, the world is on their shoulders. You’d be hard pressed to find a person in the USA that hasn’t looked to them for travel guidance."

Check out the rhyme and see if you can spot the answer to the riddle. If you can’t, follow the advice from travel tech blog Tnooz and look at each stanza vertically.

Travel Guard says insurance promotion is 'in poor taste'

(Travel agents) Permanent link

Seems that it isn’t just agents who are unhappy over an Australian travel insurance seller’s promotion, “The Travel Agent Is Dead,” which we blogged about on Friday.

Travel Guard, which is owned by Chartis, the underwriter for Sydney-based iTrek, responded to an email from Travel Weekly with this comment:

"The company that is sponsoring this promotion is an online Australian agency called iTrek that writes travel insurance business in Australia,” wrote Tom Zavadsky, Travel Guard's executive vice president. "ITrek is not a Chartis or Travel Guard company. Chartis is simply the underwriter, and has no role in the creating or executing of marketing programs for iTrek products.

"On Friday, Chartis informed the agency that the program is in poor taste and not a good fit for the Chartis brand. We have been in touch with our Australia regional team, and have requested that iTrek discontinue this promotion.

"In no way does Travel Guard endorse this marketing approach and believes this promotion is in very poor taste."

Travel Weekly had written to Travel Guard to try to clarify the relationship between Chartis and iTrek.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, iTrek was still running the promotion, which invites consumers to make 30-second videos around "The Travel Agent Is Dead" theme.

However, Chartis’ name and logo had been removed from the bottom of the promotion's web page.

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