Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: March 5, 2007

CHECKING IN WITH: Diane Hutchins and Lisa Williams, two home-based agents affiliated with host agency Travel Counsellors. Hutchins reports that cruise bookings for the Caribbean and Europe are doing well for her this spring. In fact, Hutchins, who works out of Springfield, Va., and specializes in cruises, says she rarely gets domestic bookings. Land trips to Italy are selling well, she said, as are Mediterranean cruises. The at-home retailer adds that her clients are booking four to six months in advance of their trips. Her non-cruise Caribbean customers prefer all-inclusives, she says.

SPRING BOOKINGS also are looking lively for Williams, especially the Florida theme parks. "I seem to have more of these than in previous years, and clients are looking for packages, not pieced-together travel parts." Williams, based in the Washington area, said cruises to Panama and Costa Rica "seem to be hotter than normal this spring and, of course, the Alaska flood is under way for summer." Williams said all-inclusives are selling well, at both family and adults-only resorts. Most of her customers are booking within four to six weeks of the intended departure date.

We would like to know how your spring bookings are coming along, and where clients are asking you to send them. E-mail Donna Tunney at [email protected].

VACATION RENTALS 4 AGENTS, part of the RCI Global Vacation Network, hiked its agency commission to 20%, up from 12%. The pay spike applies to new bookings made by March 31 for travel through June 30. A company spokeswoman said independent agents must register on the site and provide an industry identification number, such as a CLIA or TRUE number (offered through the Outside Sales Support Network). The company offers resort stays and villa, cottage and house rentals in the U.S., Italy, France and Great Britain. Its Web site is at www.vacationrentals4agents.com. Interested retailers also can call (866) 844-2017.

TOUR DESK: Sandals Resorts launched its Get Smart Travel Agent Hotline to help agents obtain information quickly and correctly for their clients. The hotline number at (866) SANDALS is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

FAM OF THE WEEK

London

Trip: Overnight stays at the Athenaeum Hotel & Apartments in London through March 31.

Cost: $99 per room, double, plus VAT for stays in the hotel's executive guest rooms or $175 per room, double, plus VAT for stays in an apartment.

Noteworthy: All requests must be made in writing on agency stationery with the agent's IATA number and sent via fax to the hotel's reservations manager.

Contact: fax: (800) 335-3200.

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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