ome folks at Carnival Cruise Lines
just don't get it. They're scratching their heads. They don't
understand why every cruise line hasn't copied the Carnival
Vacation Guarantee, the 3-year-old policy that lets Carnival guests
cut and run at the next port, with a refund, if they don't like
their cruise. What a sales tool!
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Thud. Not even Carnival's sister brands matched.
So it falls to Travel Services International, the industry's
largest cruise retailer, to experiment with a guarantee during the
first quarter of this year.
It's a gamble for any retailer to guarantee a product that it
doesn't produce. Rosenbluth Interactive, the only other travel
retailer to have done anything similar, is, like TSI, very large
and very able to handle a little risk. Rosenbluth can afford to
offer $200 to the small number of clients whose flights are an hour
late, and TSI can afford to arrange a flight home now and then for
the few cruise passengers who are going to storm off one of today's
cruise ships in disgust.
Still, we give credit to these retailers for coming up with
these product guarantees, but, like Carnival, we're scratching our
heads a little, too. Why aren't we hearing from the producers of
the product? Wouldn't a product guarantee level the playing field
for all the small travel agencies they claim to love so much?
t was an inspired choice. There
may be a number of people who would make an excellent secretary of
transportation for the incoming administration, but few could bring
to the job the experience and prestige of commerce secretary and
former congressman Norman Y. Mineta. This nomination will make the
Department of Transportation a focal point for the kind of
bipartisan problem-solving that George W. Bush has promised, and
that is something to look forward to.