Every organization has stories that are good for lots of laughs,
but only after the fact.
Vacation.com collected this one during its recent annual
conference in Orlando:
Tony McKinnon, chairman and chief executive officer, made the
traditional welcome and opening remarks at a morning general
But he, in turn, was introduced at the tail end of a package of
dramatic special effects that had him arrive on stage in a DeLorean
automobile, the whole thing courtesy of Hertz.
The arrival of the car and its occupants was accompanied by some
colorful popping and puffing of light and smoke -- a little too
much smoke, in fact.
The smoke alarms went off and continued their screeching
intermittently for several minutes.
Tony gamely went on with the show, but -- to the amusement of
his audience -- while posing a number of rhetorical questions, he
broke stride to ad lib an extra question, "And when will someone
shut off the alarms?"
They went off soon after.
David Jones, who came from Amadeus' European offices to assume
his post of president and chief executive officer of Amadeus U.S.,
told delegates to the Vacation.com conference in Orlando that he
was particularly pleased to be working in the U.S. just now.
After all, he said, the U.S. is "the capital of dot-comery."
"And, think of it," he said. "All of you are dot-comers."
Make the kids pay
Ron Letterman, president and chief executive officer of Classic
Custom Vacations, reminded Vacation.com delegates attending the
annual conference in Orlando that travel agents' services are not
and should not be free.
He said, "If they are free, you will be treated accordingly.
"Think about how your kids treat you. If you charged them a fee,
you'd get treated better."
You call that landing?
Choice Hotels sponsored motivational speaker Dan Clark, the
primary contributor to "Chicken Soup for the Soul."
During his hourlong presentation, he told this story, claiming
it was all true:
(Insider has doubts but loves the tale anyway.)
On a Delta flight from Salt Lake City to Dallas, he said the
aircraft bounced all over the place due to some pretty bad
When the plane finally landed, he said, a soft-spoken cabin
attendant came on the public address system to announce in a soft
"Welcome to Dallas. If you enjoyed your flight, tell your
friends you flew on Delta.
"If you didn't like it, tell them it was Southwest."
She was followed by this colorful bit of advice from another
"Keep your seat belts fastened while Captain Kangaroo bounces us
the rest of the way to the gate."
As if that were not enough, Dan said, as passengers exited, one
elderly woman walked deliberately to the front of the plane, cane
in hand, and asked the flight crew if she could ask a question.
"Of course," she was told.
So she asked this one: "Did we land or were we shot down?"
By now, doesn't everyone know there are two Robert Brennans in
Seattle and in the travel business?
One of them, the one who put his name on a company, Brennan
Tours, was an exhibitor in the trade show at the Vacation.com
conference in Orlando last week.
Insider asked how we could differentiate the two Robert
Brennans, and he (of Brennan Tours) said, "I'm the one who
The "victim" of that jibe is
Robert Brennan, founder of Sunmakers, an FIT specialist.
Ribbing his namesake a few more times, Robert Brennan (of
Brennan Tours again) said, "I tell him to keep me informed of what
he's doing so when people ask me why I did what he did, I can
answer the question.
"I should bill him for the public relations I have done for him,
anyway," he said, clearly enjoying the joshing he handed out -- in
absentia -- to his longtime friend.
And, indeed, lest anyone misinterpret this bit of ribbing, the
two men have known each other since 1968 and are good friends.
That is a good thing, too: It seems that some people aren't
careful enough with their recordkeeping, so the two Robert Brennans
have received each other's mail, and sometimes those envelopes
contain confidential stuff.
Haiku, can you?
While on a transatlantic flight back to the U.S., Insider came
to a screeching halt during the in-flight meal service.
Insider has long become used to the poetic attempts of airlines
to make their products seem better, but this one was special.
On the back of a salt packet, Insider read the following:
The color of snow
The taste of tears
The enormity of oceans
Inspired by the description of salt in the haiku-like poetry
(three lines of five, seven and five syllables), and the four hours
left on the flight, Insider dreamed up some airline "euphemisms" of
What it is you want
Lies past the forward curtain
You should have paid more
Storm winds howl and rage
Rain drums on aluminum wings
Lags sweeten the trip
Insider apologizes that the second line of Flight Delays has
eight syllables; however, most people tend to apply just three
syllables to the word alum'num, anyway.
Insider was in the audience last month when actor Christopher
Reeve came to Walt Disney World's Epcot Center theme park in
Florida to give the keynote address to some 2,000 Millennium
The millennium dreamers were children from around the world, ages 8
to 15, who were being honored by Disney, McDonald's and other
concerns for their extraordinary community contributions and heroic
Reeve, seated in his wheelchair, offered praise and words of
encouragement to the youngsters.
Meanwhile, Insider could not help but think how many of the
adults in that audience may at times have magnified their rather
insignificant problems (compared with Reeve's), such as missed
connections and lost baggage, taking for granted their mobility and
ability to breathe unassisted.
Reeve, who is paralyzed because of a spinal cord injury, could
not even turn his head to view Disney's daytime fireworks, which
flanked him after his address.
Insider was hopeful that he was at least able to see some of the
display out of the corners of his eyes.