The downside of democracy is that sometimes
the majority gets it wrong. It happened in Alaska last year when
voters adopted a ballot initiative designed, it would seem, to show
the cruise lines who's boss.
The end result was
a bad law that requires, among other things, the disclosure of the
financial arrangements between the cruise lines and local shore
A brigade of those
operators are now in a state court in Sitka seeking to stop the law
from taking effect, on the grounds that they shouldn't be required
to disclose this proprietary and competitively sensitive
At the same time,
several elected legislators are busy in Juneau trying to get
passage of remedial legislation.
We hope both
efforts succeed. A judicial order and a new law from the
legislature might be just enough of a double smack-down to make
Alaska citizens come to their senses about the cruise
We think it's good
for Alaska and good for the travel industry that the citizens of
the Great Land care enough about their community and the
environment to hold cruise lines and other travel companies to high
On last year's
ballot, however, they just flat-out got it wrong.
Anybody who is interested in tracking the
fortunes brick-and-mortar travel agencies should take note of
ASTA's latest Agency Profile, featured in our By the Numbers report
today ["ASTA profile: Members are older,
encouraging news for those who fear that travel agencies are
disappearing. Nearly half the travel agencies participating in the
survey were established before 1980. As small businesses go, 27
years (and counting) isn't a bad life span.
profitable, but not wildly so, for they are small. But that's not
the number that concerns us today.
Our concern for the
moment is that their owner-managers aren't getting any
From 2004 to 2006,
the percentage of owner-managers above the age of 45 increased from
85.8% of the total to 88.4%. Put another way, those between the
ages of 25 and 44 now make up 11.7% of the total, down from 13.9%
two years ago.
Of course, an age
pyramid for a sample of ASTA members isn't rock-solid evidence, but
it's another reminder that this is an industry dominated by
boomers, and boomers are moving on. What will the echo be
don't have an official Quote of the Week contest around here, but
if we had to pick some finalists this week, Royal Caribbean
Chairman Richard Fain would be among them.
Fain admits in our
In the Hot Seat interview that cruise lines sometimes just
don't know why bookings seem to get hot and then cool down. Few
market analysts or corporate executives ever admit that they don't
know something, but we suspect it happens from time to
In fact, we suspect
they sometimes make things up to reassure people that they're in
the loop or in control. The realists among us appreciate Fain's
refreshing reminder that business imitates life and comes with its
share of surprises and unsolved mysteries.