Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: Jan. 1, 2007

JOYSTAR launched VacationCompare.com, a comparison-shopping Web site for consumers that matches travel requests with Joystar agencies. The host agency said it would roll out an affiliate program to help drive qualified traffic to its marketplace of agent members. Additionally, VacationCompare.com will offer both private-label and co-branded versions of the tool to the firm's "super affiliates" and to other high-traffic sites. Jorge Romero, Joystar's director of online marketing, said the agency is negotiating partnerships for VacationCompare.com's affiliate network.

HOTEL DESK: The 310-room Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach unveiled its $60 million refit. Among the upgrades at the Florida hotel are a 3,000-square-foot oceanfront terrace, three new restaurants, a resort-wide wireless network, a new luxury room category (oceanfront suites), the installation of flat screen TVs and a new pool. A revamped spa will open in June.

DATEBOOK: The Missouri Chapter of OSSN will host Cayman Islands Tourism at its meeting on Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Maryland Heights Centre, Maryland Heights, Mo. E-mail [email protected] to sign up. The cost is $5 for members and $10 for non-members.

TOUR DESK: In honor of its 60th anniversary, General Tours launched a promotion of complimentary upgrades, savings and incentives, providing one bonus offer every day through March. Check out the promotion on www.generaltours.com.

FAM OF THE WEEK

China

Trip: Spends three nights in Beijing and two nights each in Shanghai and Xian, with sightseeing by private car in each city.

Departure: Daily through March from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Beijing via United Airlines.

Length: Seven nights.

Sponsor: Orient Flexi-Pax Tours, New York.

Cost: $1,299 per person, double. Includes roundtrip air, hotel accommodations, sightseeing, some meals and transfers.

Noteworthy: Companions are eligible. Taxes totaling about $255 are additional.

Contact: (800) 545-5540; 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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