You hear it all the time: Little things mean a lot. In retailing, for example, store managers know that a smile and a "thank you" cost nothing but can yield big returns.

Sometimes, the little things are so small they can go unnoticed. For example, among last week's media releases was a statement from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Rolls-Royce that they had settled a dispute over alleged defects in the Mermaid propulsion pods that had affected the reliability of four Celebrity Cruises ships.

The release attributed the following statement to Celebrity CEO Dan Hanrahan: "Rolls-Royce has one of the best reputations for reliability, and guests and travel agents should feel confident in Rolls-Royce's assurances of the reliability of the Mermaid pods."

What caught our attention were the three little words "and travel agents."

We're pretty sure that no airline, and few hotels, would have thought to mention agents in a statement of this kind. Even in the cruise industry, which is heavily dependent on agency distribution, we suspect that some lines would have mentioned "our guests" and left it at that.

What happened in this case was the public relations equivalent of a smile and a "thank you." It cost nothing, and it might have little impact by itself. Somebody thought to include it, however, and that deserves to get noticed.

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