LAYING THE GROUNDWORK: Representatives from
virtually every major industry group, including those serving the
home-based and independent agent community, took the first steps
toward creating industry-wide educational standards for travel
retailers. At a summit gathering in New York sponsored by the
Travel Institute, participants agreed that standard training and
certification programs would benefit both travel agents and
consumers, and said they would move ahead with the idea of creating
AMONG THE PARTICIPANTS was OSSN's Gary Fee, who
came away from the summit confident that the industry groups are
headed in the right direction. "I have to commend [Travel Institute
president] David Preece for being able to corral all the
associations in one place to get the dialogue going. That's never
been done before." Fee said he favors standardized training
programs for home-based and independent agents.
OTHER INDUSTRY PEOPLE voiced support as well,
but Michael Walstrom, vice president of sales for www.myhostagency.com, pondered whether there can be a
certification that will "foresee the continuing evolution of
travel." Walstrom also noted that many travel suppliers fund the
Travel Institute. "I believe that, along with their financial
pledges [to the institute], these vendors need to guarantee they
will provide the agency community with all of their rates," he
said. Agents, Walstrom added, "need a consolidation of training and
certification, but we must not be naive -- the bottom line to
consumers is the combination of price and customer service." The
group of industry representatives plans to meet again for further
discussions in April.
Learn about riverbarge trips in the U.S. at OSSN's meeting Feb. 2
in Feasterville, Pa. The event, scheduled for Lamberti's
Restaurant, 1045 Bustleton Pike, begins at 6 p.m. The meeting is
free, just pay for what you eat. RSVP required by calling Paula's
Travel Agency at (215) 355-9467.
FAM OF THE WEEK: The Marquesas
Departures: Fridays through March 26 from Los
Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti, via Air Tahiti Nui.
Length: Seven nights.
Sponsor: Tahiti Vacations, Chatsworth, Calif.
Cost: $1,599 per person, double. Includes
roundtrip air, accommodations, transfers, buffet breakfasts daily,
rental car for one day and one dinner.
Requirements: Iatan card or ARC listing.
Contact by fax: (818) 775-1188.
Check out more fam trips on Travel Weekly's Web site, www.travelweekly.com.