Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: November 21, 2005

GLOBAL TRAVEL INTERNATIONAL (GTI), a Florida firm that offers some services typical of a host agency, such as marketing and tech support to home-based agents, lost its ability to provide members with discounted room rates at Marriott hotels. Marriott, reacting to a recent call by ASTA for suppliers to rid our industry of the ongoing scourge of card mills, said that effective Jan. 1, GTI member agents no longer will qualify for the firms Famtastic rates.

MARRIOTT Vice President Fred Miller said his company since 1998 has tracked each agencys ratio of Fantastic rates and their Marriott sales. If the portion booked at the cut-rate Famtastic levels surpassed a predetermined portion, the agency lost its access to the discounted rates. He said this has affected thousands over the years, and 10 to 15 entities lost access to agency discounts in just the last year.

GTI, a privately owned Orlando firm that says it exceeds $100 million in annual sales, claims to have tens of thousands of agent members. The company promotes itself as providing steep travel discounts and opportunities for consumers to earn income by booking travel for their friends, family and business associates -- a typical hallmark of the card mills that sprang up in the early to mid-1990s.

IN THE LAST several years, companies that offer their own travel discount cards to anyone willing to pay membership fees have come under increasing scrutiny. After paying membership fees, GTI says members can receive up to 75% off their own travel expenses. More information on the company is at www.globaltravel.com. The principals of the firm were not immediately reachable for comment on Marriotts move.

 

DATEBOOK: An organizational meeting for the OSSN chapter in Maryland is set for Nov. 29 in Bowie. The event starts at 7 p.m. For details and location, e-mail chapter director Tasha Tillman at [email protected].

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