Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: July 18, 2005

CARD MILLS, branding and customer service are among the topics to be hashed out at the Travel Institutes 2005 National Forum in Boston, Sept. 9 to 11. The Travel Institute is structuring its forum around "interactive think tank formats." Throughout the weekend, professionals from all areas of the industry will be challenged to look at where they are professionally, consider how they can better serve their customers and seek ways to be the catalyst of change in the industry. The institute counts many home-based agents among its students.

TOPICS are sponsored by American Express and include: industry standards and card mills; marketing and brand recognition; recruitment, compensation and retention of employees; and meaningful customer service. Each group will be facilitated by industry leaders, who have made a mark in their respective fields, the Travel Institute. Results will be the stimuli for further discussions during the weekend and will be summarized in a white paper to be published on the Travel Institutes Web site, www.thetravelinstitute.com. Information about attending the forum is available on the site.

WORLDHOTELS, the Americas, an independent hotel sales, marketing and distribution firm, launched a Web portal for travel agents. The portal, which is part of a broader travel agent marketing campaign called Be Connected, is password-protected and requires an e-mail address and IATA number for access. Located at http://worldhotels.net/travelagency, the portal features a new familiarization rate that can be booked through the site, details on commission payments, contests for merchandise and travel prizes, and details about the companys 500 member properties.

"TRAVEL AGENTS touch approximately 65% of all the business being booked through our reservations systems to our hotels," said Tom Griffiths, vice president. He said the two key elements of the Be Connected campaign include a new method for booking the travel agent rate and a monthly familiarization rate at a featured property to encourage agents to visit member hotels. Information about both items is found on the new travel agent portal.

FAM OF THE WEEK

Argentina

Departure: Aug. 31 from Miami to Buenos Aires via American Airlines.


Length: Seven nights.

Sponsor: Tara Tours, Miami Springs, Fla.

Cost: $1,699 per person, double. Includes roundtrip air, accommodations, daily breakfast, some other meals, sightseeing entrance fees and transfers.

Trip: Spends four nights in Buenos Aires and three nights in Calafate.

Noteworthy: Rate for a second travel agent is $100 additional. Departure taxes are not included. Companions are eligible to participate at an additional cost.

Contact: (305) 871-1246; fax: (305) 871-0417; e-mail: [email protected].

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