Two trade vets launch a new host agency


Cruise & Travel Experts, a new host agency, has launched operations in Spring Lake, Mich. Founded by longtime travel industry executives Tom Baumann and Mark Schiffner, the boutique travel company will serve agents across the country. Baumann is a former executive at Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Travel Leaders Leisure Group. Schiffner served for five years as COO of Cruise Holidays. So far, the agency's website shows six travel advisers.

AH&LA warns against Expedia-Orbitz deal
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) said it opposes Expedia Inc.'s pending acquisition of Orbitz Worldwide. "This transaction and the resulting consolidation of the online travel marketplace will result in significant negative consequences, particularly for consumers, but also for the large number of our members who are small business owners and franchised properties," AH&LA CEO Katherine Lugar said in a statement. Lugar said that hotels on average pay Expedia 11% higher commissions for hotel bookings than they pay Orbitz, and that Expedia Inc. and Priceline Group would account for more than 95% of bookings by online travel agencies if the Orbitz acquisition happens.

ACL moving a Queen to Pacific Northwest
American Cruise Lines plans to rename and reposition its 150-passenger paddlewheeler the Queen of the Mississippi to the Pacific Northwest, where it will join the line's 120-passenger Queen of the West. The line's new 185-passenger riverboat America, launching in early 2016 on the Mississippi, will replace the Queen of the Mississippi there.

U.S., Canada, Mexico act to speed screening
The U.S., Canada and Mexico plan to create a trusted traveler network that would enable eligible citizens to apply for expedited airport screening. As part of the agreement, Mexican nationals who are members of the Viajero Confiable trusted traveler program will be able to apply for the U.S.-Canada Nexus program. It will also allow Canadians who are members of Nexus to apply for Viajero Confiable. U.S. citizens already are eligible to apply for the Nexus and Viajero Confiable programs. Eligible travelers would be able to apply for each program beginning in 2016.

New Frontier package bundles key ancillaries
Frontier Airlines has begun selling an add-on package called the Works that includes a carry-on bag, a checked bag, no change fees, priority boarding, access to the best available seat at the time of booking and a full refund when a reservation is canceled at least 24 hours prior to scheduled departure. The price varies by route: $49 to $69 each way, based on roundtrip purchase. The price is $57 to $83 each way for connecting flights, based on roundtrip purchase. Last year, Frontier lowered its fares but began charging extra for carry-on bags and advance seat assignments.

AmaWaterways' latest debuts in Germany
The AmaSerena, AmaWaterways' latest vessel, was christened in Vilshofen, Germany, last week. Michelle Fee, co-founder and CEO of Cruise Planners, served as the godmother for the 164-passenger vessel. The ship features the line's first connecting staterooms. Itineraries for the AmaSerena include the Enchanting Rhine, Magnificent Europe and the Romantic Danube.

Friends & Colleagues
Belmond Ltd., formerly known as Orient-Express, has tapped former Sun Resorts CEO Philippe Cassis as its new COO. Cassis worked with Starwood Hotels & Resorts for almost three decades before joining Sun Resorts. Belmond operates 46 hotels as well as rail and river-cruise excursions. • • • Fathom, Carnival Corp.'s new social impact line, has named 15-year cruise industry veteran Michelle Sutter a senior sales leader. In this role, Sutter will be responsible for marketing and business development supporting sales of the Fathom brand. Sutter joins the Fathom team from Holland America Line and Seabourn, where she was business development manager since early 2013. Prior to that, she served in several sales roles at Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. • • • Will Ris, senior vice president for government affairs at American Airlines, has announced he intends to retire at the end of this year after nearly 20 years with the airline. • • • Corinthia Hotels appointed Thomas M. Fischer general manager of its flagship, five-star hotel in London. Fischer arrives in London with more than two decades' experience in luxury hospitality. He has served as the G.M. at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest since March 2012. • • • Playa Resorts Management promoted Douglas Knapp to vice president of revenue and yield management and Howard Tannenbaum to vice president of group and retail sales. Both executives joined Playa as global directors in their respective fields in 2014. Knapp formerly held positions in finance and financial operations with American Express, Certified Vacations Group, Delta Vacations and Sky Bird Travel and Tours. Tannenbaum previously served as president of Expedia CruiseShipCenters and held posts with Club Med, including vice president of sales, USA.

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