'Scavenger hunt' referral can earn pay for agents

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It's time for savvy travel agents to scroll down their client list and find a pair of intrepid globetrotters to participate in the GreatEscape Foundation's sixth annual Global Scavenger Hunt, a three-week cultural journey that will take them to 10 countries.

The two-person teams will pay $9,900 per person to compete in 2010, and the cost covers all international air, 23 nights in up-market hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental and some meals. Agents won't handle any booking details, but if they "refer" a two-person team that's chosen to participate, the retailer receives $2,000.

The scavenger hunt is the brainchild of William D. Chalmers, who founded the nonprofit Great Escape Foundation in 2000, seeking to combine his love of travel with his "sense of social responsibility."

The scavenger hunt has a goal of raising $1 million for international causes in association with other competitions sponsored by the foundation, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif.

"Travel is supposed to be about bringing people together with our differences," Chalmers said in a statement. "That's why, if you take the plunge and join this travel adventure competition, not only will you see temples, markets and museums and eat in places you would never have found on your own, but you may also spend an afternoon volunteering at a Tibetan refugee camp or an orphanage in Cambodia."

The hunt is limited to 25 two-person teams who must pass an interview by event organizers. It departs April 9 and returns May 1, and the destinations remain secret until the trip is under way.

Participants will perform daily scavenges in a rally-like event in at least 10 countries, possibly more. The event is designed for independent travelers to test their "travel IQ" in a real-world competition that emphasizes "sight-doing, not just sightseeing."

The winning duo will be crowned the World's Greatest Travelers for 2010, and they'll get to defend their title in 2011 for free.

Retailers can get details on www.globalscavengerhunt.com or by calling (310) 281-7809.

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