little birdie told TC that a
remarkable number of airlines, most paying no base commissions, are
paying at least some agencies some kind of point-of-sale incentives
on some portion of bookings. For starters, our source identified 55
airlines at zero base pay; among them, 31 are paying such
incentives. Another 13 carriers are doing the same.
Most such offers, we were told, are market-sensitive, meaning
city-pair and/or fare specific. Most apply on international
sectors, but there have been plenty of transcontinental incentives
recently and a few in other domestic markets. Our birdie chirped
out one more thought: As more people return to the air and the
competition livens up, "We will see more incentives." And maybe
that will occur before more agents lose interest.
• • •
TC's Candor Award this week has to go to
Wyndham for putting this headline on a company
press release: "Wyndham Unleashes Another Hotel Industry First:
Affordable Mini-Bars." This was the hotel chain's way of rolling
back what it called the "notoriously exorbitant" prices that have
become the industry standard. Wyndham's new menu list for its
minibars offers a Coke for a $1.50, which isn't too bad,
• • •
Norwegian Cruise Line and the Carnival family will have
"priority" berthing in New York under their new deal with the city.
But will the smaller players get shut out? No, said
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises CEO Mark Conroy, whose
line offers weekly summer sailings from the city. Conroy, who told
TC that he's excited about the new plans, said, "We may have to
balance our schedule around theirs, but we're going to take
advantage of the improvements, as well."
• • •
According to Adventure Tours, the number of
packages that were booked under a mistaken price was greatly
overestimated in last week's Travel Confidential. The actual number
was "only about a dozen," according to a spokeswoman for the
Mark Travel Corp., owner of Adventure Tours,
making the cost to the company about $2,400.
• • •
With Rick Sasso's name back in the spotlight
with MSC Cruises, some folks were wondering what's
happened to Sasso's shipboard tailoring business, which was to sell
bespoke suits to cruise passengers during the voyage.
Sasso's business, now run by son Richard Jr. and called
Davanti, isn't on every cruise ship. But Sasso
told TC Davanti is doing well. There are tailors on
Celebrity and Costa ships as well
as at a landside operation, he said.
• • •
Geography 101: A travel agent friend in
Newfoundland, N.J., recently received a piece of mail from a
sixth-grade student in El Paso, Texas, who said he was doing a
research report "and I chose your country, Newfoundland." Oddly,
the envelope was made out, in the child's handwriting, to the
agency's street address, including city, state and ZIP code.
Our agent friend reports, "Newfoundland, N.J., has been called a
lot of things, but this is the first time it's been referred to as
a 'foreign country.' I ordered a bunch of stuff from the real
Newfoundland. I'm going to send it to him, along with some Canadian
money." And maybe a map?
• • •
Carol Young, owner of All Seasons Travel and
leader in a fight to convince the Chattanooga, Tenn., airport to
end its support of another retailer's telephone information and
booking services, closed her agency, which had been at the
Under the name Experience Travel, she now is a home-based
independent. She said, "I was going into debt, I was paying rent
[to the airport] while the airport paid another agency twice my
rent [$30,000 a year] to operate the FareLine telephone
TC found Young at, of all places, the Chattanooga airport's Web
site, which now lists local agencies and links to those agencies'