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ASTA Confronts Cruise Line Profitability, Privacy Issues, Pay-for-Content

June 15, 2009 By: George Dooley

ASTA’s second annual Retail Travel Leadership Summit (RTLS) will be held during the THETRADESHOW in Las Vegas on September 14 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. It will examine the financial dynamics of the cruise lines, data privacy in the travel industry and pay-for-content, with a special look at the controversial topic of airlines charging travel agents for fare and schedule access in their GDS’s. The RTLS is designed to create an innovative forum for high-level debate and discussion on pressing travel industry issues.

"Last year's first RTLS was very well received, and I think this year will only build upon that success," said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair. "We've taken some of the most-talked about and provocative issues facing the industry and are putting the tough questions out there for debate. Anyone who plans on having a stake in the travel industry in the coming years needs to attend."

ASTA said the panel discussions and topics addressed include:

Financial Dynamics of the Cruise Lines


Despite the financial crisis sweeping the world, the cruise line industry reports mostly full ships and continues to order more. Is this show of confidence justified? What is happening to pricing and profits as the cruise lines drive volume to their ships? Is this approach sustainable? How will their current survival tactics impact travel retailers?

Data Privacy in the Travel Industry

The technological revolution that has engulfed the world has resulted in personal information being held in many places. Many companies use "privacy policies" to declare how this information will be protected and shared. Much personal information, with or without consent, is captured for use in monitoring and analyzing consumer behavior and marketing/sales programs. The panel will discuss these issues as they relate to travel retailing: who gets personal information, how is it protected, how is it used, what are the risks and rewards?

Pay for Content

Probably the biggest issue for retail travel sellers since the commission caps of 1995, this practice is growing in Europe. When will it arrive in the U.S.? What are the implications for travel distributors of moving to a model in which airline content can only be sold for a charge? How will DOT full-price disclosure rules deal with this when retailers pass on the fees? Can independent retailing survive a move to pay-for-content? Is the ultimate goal to force consumers to deal directly with the airlines and finally eliminate the agent?


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