Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: September 19, 2005

TRAVEL PLANNERS INTERNATIONAL, a host agency that supports outside sales agents, independent contractors, and retail travel agencies, said Passport Online will power its consumer Web site at www.agenthub.net. The deal offers Travel Planners agents a custom version of the VacationPort e-commerce marketing program, which is powered by Passport Online and promotes preferred supplier programs to customers through integrated e-mail and Web site applications. Travel Planners also added Worldspan to its GDS booking options. Retailers can learn more about Travel Planners on line at www.travelagentfromhome.com

NEST, the Network of Entrepreneurs Selling Travel, also rolled out an agreement with VacationPort and Passport Online during its Flying High conference in Las Vegas last week. The VacationPort system, said NEST senior vice president Stuart Cohen, will serve as an extension of the existing NESTDirect direct mail program. The marketing group for home-based retailers also will offer Passport Online's NexCite Web site-building tool to its members, said Cohen.

DUES MAY RISE: ASTA members in the Travel Professional category will see their dues increase if a proposed overhaul of the Society's structure is approved in a referendum this month. Under the proposal, ASTA would offer just two membership categories for agents in the U.S., a basic level at $250 in annual fees and a premium level with a range of custom consulting services at $2,500 a year. Independent retailers in the Travel Professionals category (ASTA says there are more than 800 in this category) now pay $189. Brick-and-mortar agencies now pay $365.

HOME-BASED agent Sherry Leybovich, a Cruise Planners franchisee, was named a CLIA Elite Cruise Counselor Scholar. She is one of just five in North America to hold the designation, which represents the highest level of official recognition that a CLIA agent can earn.  Leybovich has been a Cruise Planner agent since 2000 and in the travel industry since 1992. She operates her agency in the Tampa area. Her Web site is at www.cruisesforu.com.

FAM OF THE WEEK

Bulgaria

Departures: Oct. 21, Nov. 11 or Dec. 9 from New York to Sofia via British
Airways.


Length: Seven nights.

Sponsor: Destination Bulgaria, Montgomery Village, Md.

Cost: $1,399 per person, double. Includes roundtrip air; four- and five-star
hotel accommodations; breakfast and dinner daily and most lunches; taxes;
motorcoach transportation; four spa treatments; sightseeing; and the
services of an English-speaking guide.

Trip: Visits Devin, Hissaria, Sofia, Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo and Velingrad.
Noteworthy: The single supplement is $200; the companion rate is $250
additional. Business-class air upgrades are $2,800 per person.

Contact: (301) 775-6531 or (301) 651-9605; fax: (301) 216-2477; e-mail:
[email protected].

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