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 session.

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 weather.

When the plane finally landed, he said, a soft-spoken cabin attendant came on the public address system to announce in a soft Southern drawl:

"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 cabin attendant:

"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 works."

Robert Brennan (of Brennan Tours).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 her own:

Economy Class
What it is you want
Lies past the forward curtain
You should have paid more

Flight Delays
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.

Millennium dreamers

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 Dreamers.

Christopher Reeve was the keynote speaker at the Millennium Dreamers event at Epcot Center. 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 acts.

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.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI