Mergers have gotten some bad press in recent
years, particularly in the airline biz, but there's a travel merger
being talked about in Washington these days that we like. It's the
combination of the Travel Industry Association and the Travel
If you're far from
Washington and more concerned with commerce than politics, you
might not care much, but you should care a little. Like it or not,
commerce and politics are like money and power. They attract each
other. That's why the Washington phone book is full of national
associations lobbying for every area of commerce from the Air
Transport Association to (we are not making this up) the American
But in the words of
Bill Connors, who heads the National Business Travel Association,
"Part of the travel industry's problem as an industry is we have
always been thought of among the decision-makers in Washington as a
fluff industry," lacking the economic and political clout of, say,
farming or steel.
For as long as we can
remember, the Travel Industry Association has been preaching to its
members that this industry needs to develop a measure of political
clout (power) commensurate with its economic impact
If the broad-based
TIA can advance that goal by merging with the Travel Business
Roundtable, a smaller, quieter group consisting of influential CEOs
and other senior travel executives, then we're all for
And it's not just
about convincing the federal government to fund a national tourism
promotion effort, though that's a fine place to start.
It's also about a
broader vision for our transportation systems and the need to make
them balanced, more integrated and energy-efficient as well as more
It about the need for
an education system that gives our young people a curiosity about
the world and a respect for other cultures.
It's about an
attitude toward work that recognizes the value of vacations to our
well being and our overall productivity.
understanding that the indirect effects of our economic and
political choices are not always immediate or obvious.
This isn't steel or
zinc, but it's hardly fluff.
Remember when Expedia Inc. acquired Classic
Vacations and some agencies started bad-mouthing Classic? The
Virtuoso consortium went so far as to dump Classic altogether. They
kissed and made up earlier this year. Classic is back on Virtuoso's
And do you remember
when InterContinental Hotels Group parted company with Expedia over
the hotel company's list of distribution dos and don'ts for Web
Well, that was then
and this is now, and as we report in the news pages this week,
they're back together.
All of this gets us
to thinking about how long Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and YTB
will be staring at each other across a moat. It won't be soon, but
we suspect that this situation will eventually resolve itself, as
There's too much
business to be transacted for such large entities to have such
large enemies for long periods. We see it over and over.