Off the hook

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The Travel Company (formerly Travel Services International), Joseph Vittoria's unstoppable acquisition machine, gobbled up two more cruise-only agencies a while back that boast lucrative 800-number businesses. "Thank you for calling The Travel Company. If we don't own you yet, press 1..."

ARTA is trying to get consumers to give their loved ones travel packages as holiday gifts. It's a great idea, but will the dads of the world be able to cope with getting a week in Monaco instead of the usual six-pack of disposable razors?

The on-line agency Preview Travel now offers clients video clips, weather info, maps, currency conversion and detailed destination information right in their Web browsers. Agent C.R. Mudgeon of Old Dog New Tricks travel responded by pointing at the eight tons of debris on his desk and exclaiming, "Oh yeah, well I've got all that stuff, too!"

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