Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: Oct. 29, 2007

CLIA began offering memberships to individual agents, for $99 per year. To qualify for the new category, an agent must be part of an active CLIA member agency. The individual agent will receive an individual and local listing on the group's online travel agent locator and the listing will also reference the agent's CLIA agency affiliation. The growing number of home-based agents was among the reasons why the organization launched the category, which provides access to its education and training programs, industry information and marketing resources. "The one-size-fits-all model of membership doesn't reflect today's changing travel agency channels, and CLIA is committed to delivering value and opportunities to both our agency members and the individual agents selling travel" said Terry Dale, the group's president and CEO. Details and registration are at

JOYSTAR, a host agency, confirmed that Royal Caribbean Cruises severed their business relationship because the cruise company considers Joystar a card mill. Royal Caribbean decided a few weeks ago that its three brands -- Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity and Azamara -- no longer would accept bookings from travel-related companies that it determines are card mills. Joystar President Larry Fishkin said his company has been "mischaracterized" and is not a card mill, which is generally defined as a company that sells consumers access to benefits designed for travel agents. He said that he and other Joystar executives met with Royal Caribbean's top management to try to convince the company to reinstate Joystar. "The only thing they would say to us is that we have philosophical differences," Fishkin said. "I think they're misguided and misinformed. I haven't heard any rational explanation for why they're doing it." According to Joystar agent Annemarie Helmetag, Royal Caribbean has made a mistake. Helmetag said she signed on with Joystar two years ago. "I have found the company to not be in the market of selling ID cards. I have earned my IATAN card and can prove it with my earnings," she said.

TRIPGUY TRAVEL, a Pennsylvania-based, Internet-only retailer with 43 home-based affiliates, became a Platinum Sandals Agency after meeting the required threshold of business booked with Sandals and Beaches. Mandy Chomat, senior vice president of sales for Sandals and Beaches Resorts, said training and highlighting the best representatives of the brands is a key strategy for the Caribbean-based resort chain. The designation means TripGuy now qualifies for business tools such as co-branded collateral, Web sites and advertising support. TripGuy's agents specialize in Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Las Vegas, escorted and independent tours, and cruises.

HOME-BASED RETAILERS who own their agencies in Massachusetts can breathe a sigh of relief since a proposed bill that would have imposed a $250,000 bond on each of the state's travel agencies is essentially dead, according to Ryan Kearney, policy analyst for the committee considering the measure. Kearney said the proposal had received no support at any time from any quarter. When it was set for a hearing before the state legislature's joint committee on financial services a few weeks ago, only two people testified, both agents in opposition. Agents also sent faxes protesting the proposed bill. Meanwhile, proposals worrisome to the trade are pending in New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislative committees. The New Jersey bill calls for a $50,000 bond, and the Pennsylvania measure calls for the testing of travel agents, ongoing education and a consumer compensation fund.



Trip: Three nights in Budapest.

Dates valid: Through March 31.

Sponsor: Tradesco Tours, Los Angeles.

Cost: From $148 per person, double. Includes accommodations at a choice of hotels, buffet breakfast daily and a three-day Budapest Card, which covers public transportation and discounts on museums, shopping and restaurants.

Noteworthy: Tradesco is also offering fam rates to Vienna; Prague, Czech Republic; and Warsaw and Krakow, Poland, also through March.

Contact: Fax: (239) 495-5092; 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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