Travel Weeklys Home-based Agent E-letter: Oct. 4, 2004

MILE HI TOURS, a Denver-based wholesaler, rolled out an online booking engine that enables agents to put a 48-hour hold on reservations without providing credit card information. Retailers can register to use the site at www.milehitours.com, and gain access to availability, packages and add-on items such as excursions, transfers, insurance and city passes. The Web site also allows agents to enter hotel requests, such as floor selection, handicapped availability and smoking or non-smoking. The firm specializes in Las Vegas, California, Seattle, Arizona, Alaska, Florida, New Orleans and Mexico.

MARK PESTRONK, the Fairfax, Va.-based attorney who pens Travel Weeklys Legal Briefs column and moderates the Legal Ease forum on TravelWeekly.com., identified from a legal perspective, the three most important things an at-home agent needs to know:

1. Home-based agents need to figure out how to get the clients original signature and credit card imprint on a charge slip for airline tickets. If agents sell tickets through a host agency, the host agency will get an airline debit memo if the cardholder disputes the charge and does not pay. Agents cannot dispute the debit memo, as they have no contractual relationship with the credit card company or airline. The cardholder could dispute the charge as unauthorized even though the trip was taken. The only viable alternative is to refuse to sell airline tickets to anyone whom the agent doesnt trust.

2. At-home retailers need to ensure that if one group member comes to them with a plan to organize a group trip, the agent is the one collecting and depositing the group members payments, not a group member.  If the latter absconds with the money, as can happen, the group members will look to the agent to make them whole.

3. Agents need to make sure that their host agency contract gives the agent the right to audit commission-split payments. Otherwise, if agents think that they have been underpaid, they have no legal remedy, except to sue, which is uneconomical.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Home-based agent Aimee J. Ricca, owner of Bonne Amie Travel of Rockport, Maine, was the winner of last weeks Travel Channel show, Vacation Challenge. Ricca competed with other agents to design the most compelling vacation for a group of women. Riccas custom-designed trip to Montreal was selected over two other itineraries presented by other retailers.

DATEBOOK: The Connecticut Chapter of OSSN will sponsor a seminar on Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m., featuring Roberta Diaz of Gogo Worldwide Vacations. The event is part of the Caribbean Tourism Trade Show and Roundtable being held at the Radisson Cromwell, Route 372, Cromwell, Conn. Its free for OSSN and CTO members. For information, call (860) 887-6481.

FAM OF THE WEEK
Bulgaria

Departure: Nov. 4 from New York to Sofia via Lufthansa.
Length: Nine nights.
Sponsor: Destination Bulgaria, Montgomery Village, Md.
Cost: $1,349 per person, double. Includes roundtrip air; four- and five-star hotel accommodations; breakfast and dinner daily and most lunches; taxes; motorcoach transportation; sightseeing; and the services of an English-speaking guide.
Trip: Visits Devin, Dolan, Kovachevitsa, Melnik, Pomporovo, Plovdiv, Sandanski, Sofia and Valiko Tornovo.
Noteworthy: The land-only rate is $799 per person, double. The single supplement is $225; the companion rate is $258 more.

Contact: (301) 216-9846 or (800) 688-6914; fax: (301) 210-2477; e-mail: [email protected].

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