Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: Aug. 6, 2007

INDEPENDENT OR AT-HOME retailers who dont issue airline tickets now can become accredited as a "verified travel consultant" with ARC, which recently rolled out the new category. Users get access to the organizations reporting and settlement system and to ARC Marketplace, a Web site featuring some 5,000 commissionable, non-air products. Agents who meet certain criteria can sign up at www.arccorp.com. The news raised some eyebrows within the industry, with some questioning whether the service was valuable to the trade or simply a new revenue stream for ARC. Gary Fee, Outside Sales Support Network president, said the accreditation process required no qualifications beyond typical credit and criminal record checks, a tax ID number and a business license. Steve Tracas, president and CEO of Vacation.com, said his group was supportive of anything that increased professionalism in the industry. "It remains to be seen if this does that," he cautioned, but allowed that it could be a good start.

CRUISEONE, a franchise operation with some 500 independent, cruise-only travel professionals, and Cruises Inc., the host agency network, said theyve invested more than $1 million in upgrades to computer servers and systems in order to ensure smooth operations and faster response time to customer requests. The two companies, owned by World Travel Holdings, have so far spent more than $20 million in research and development of their proprietary system, Cruise Control, which provides real-time access to cruise fares and has built-in CRM and back-office tools.

HOME-BASED RETAILER Susan Spahr joined eTravCo Travel Network as account manager for the Northeast. EtravCo is a multi-channel travel network offering host agency and consortia services. Spahr, a 26-year industry veteran and owner of a home-based agency for eight years, will be responsible for strengthening relationships with current members and expanding the networks home-based agent membership. Spahr can be reached at [email protected] or by calling (888) 568-7697.

THROUGH THE PORTHOLE: Cruise West in 2008 will position its Spirit of Nantucket in Alaska and change the 102-passenger ships name to the Spirit of Glacier Bay. The ship will operate in the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Its East Coast itineraries will continue through 2007.

FAM OF THE WEEK

Italy

Trip: Seven nights at a luxury hotel in Bologna. Full-day visits to Florence, Venice and Verona.

Departure: Sept. 15 from New York to Bologna via Eurofly.

Sponsor: Europe at Cost, New York.

Cost: 25% off guaranteed departure prices, which start at $2,595 per person, double. Includes air, hotel, daily breakfast, one lunch, guided tours of a cheese factory and a wine estate, and local taxes.

Noteworthy: This trip is only for agents. Airport taxes not included.

Contact: (800) 322-3876; e-mail: [email protected].

Home-Based Agent Editor: Donna Tunney

Phone: (508) 221-3674

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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