have no doubt that the people and businesses in Floridas travel and
tourism industry will recover and rebuild, as they have recovered
many times before. As battered as it gets from time to time,
Florida will remain one of this countrys premier destinations for
leisure travel, and rightly so.
The big question is
when? What travel sellers in the U.S. and overseas historically
want to know in times like these is what works, whats open, whats
back to normal and whats not quite ready for prime time.
Its hard enough to recover
from the physical, emotional and economic effects of a natural
disaster. It would be a shame for Florida or any recovering
destination to incur further losses or lose ground because of
misinformation and missed opportunities, particularly at a time
when leisure travel in general has been on the rebound.
president and CEO of Visit Florida, said he expects the physical
plant to be back to normal in a matter of days rather than weeks,
and he doesnt expect a perception problem, either. The best thing
the travel industry can do right now is to book visitors to Florida
for fall and winter.
interests should be encouraged by his optimism. We hope consumers
People in the so-called GDS channel are
understandably pleased that Northwest has backed off its shared GDS
fee, but consumers who like to call carriers on the phone -- or
visit them at airport counters -- arent so lucky. The major
airlines are matching Northwests fees of $5 and $10 for call center
and airport sales, respectively, so these fees will likely become
standard. Some airlines already had fees for using whats left of
their city ticket offices.
together here is a tiered system of fees for consumers, designed to
encourage use of airline Web sites and/or acclimate consumers to
the idea of paying more to get more.
US Airways, for
example, called it a service fee for customers who desire
personalized reservations ticketing assistance.
likewise, said its fees relate to personalized and value-added
airlines, including Continental, have continued to muddy the waters
by dragging in the tired cliche about the distribution costs of
If the network
airlines want to justify these fees as a necessary way of covering
the cost of value-added service, thats fine. We would understand,
and most consumers would understand. Pay more, get more.
But it seems to
confuse the issue to tell consumers that they must pay more so the
airline can keep up with its more efficient competitors.
Were not marketing
geniuses around here, but that hardly seems to be the best message
to be sending at this time.