June 11, 2010
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: June 7-11
Apologies for those who have been jonesing for their fix of the TravelAgentCentral.com's Weekly Wrap after there was no appearance last week. I was in Richmond, VA for my cousin's wedding and had the fortunate of staying at The Jefferson Hotel. Check out some of my coverage here, and note I'll be following up next week on the property's Rotunda and Palm Court lobbies as well as its highly-reputable Sunday brunch and daily tea time.
Having returned, I found a plethora of comments in my inbox. Let's check them out.
There's never an instance here at TravelAgentCentral.com when a piece on multilevel marketing or "card" mills doesn't cause a stir. So when George Dooley shared a recent newsletter by Peter Stilphen about whether agents should join one or not, needless to say, we weren't surprised to see the comments pour in to us. As much as I could make a pithy remark on each one, I think they speak for themselves.
shopheresavehere was the first to comment, going right after Stilphen, saying:
Excuse me Mr.Vetran Travel Agent, I beg to differ with you. If you are so successful...how in the world do you have time to bash MLM's and YTB? Seems to me you need to get a life.
Peter Stilphen immediately responded, writing:
You asked me a direct question and this is my response. My host agency is one of the most respected hosts in the country. I take the time to put back into this business that has been so good to me and my wife, Billie. I simply chose to write about the ills in our industry in hopes of making a change. It is agents like yourself that feel anyone putting time and money into projects that may benefit others must have an "angle" are a detriment to the growth of the travel professional. Fortunately agents with your attitude are few and far between.
Stilphen's subjects of conversation were, not surprisingly, YTB, among others. Most readers agree, and one does say citing another company.
Alyse Cori posted:
You forgot to mention the wonderful people who are popping up at all your home, boat car & antique shows. I complained to OSSN about them. They need to not be allowed to sell travel
Tamyra Nash, who apparently works for YTB, wasn't about to take any criticism while standing, writing:
I am a professional Travel Adviser and YTB happens to be my host agency. I recently booked a $100,000.00 group with HAL and another $200,000.00 in numerous honeymoons, Disney vacations, European tours, etc. I receive 75% commission, soon to be 80%. I just returned from Vancouver, BC where I experienced CLIA's Cruise 3Sixty, attended several classes, and did two ship inspections, which completed me requirements for my ACC accreditation. I am too busy helping my clients fulfill their dreams to bash other companies, but I did want to respond to this silly article. There are many successful, professionals in YTB, who only sell travel. I know one lady, who also uses YTB as her host, who has booked two world cruises. I could give you many other examples, but I am too busy with clients who want my assistance. What have you done to promote travel, which is, after all, what our industry is about?
Debbie was quick to respond to Tamyra, writing:
Tamyra, if you are doing that kind of business selling travel then why would you even want to be associated with a host agency let alone YTB?? I have met people that joined ytb that actually sell travel but they are few and far between. I ask them the same question. answer, "I don't know"
Diane D chimed in regarding Tamyra as well, saying:
Seems to me Tamyra, if you are only getting 75% commission, then you shouldn't have to pay any fees. Since you ARE making all that money for YTB, why pay them anything? Isn't that what the 25% is for? I have independent agents that work for me and aside for paying the $15 per month for Client Ease (no profit to me at all), they don't pay anything else and if they are experienced agents, they start out at 80%!!!
Meanwhile, TB, like yours truly, just wants the madness to end, commenting:
Stop fighting! It sounds like the age old battle of religions. Get on with selling Travel. Vendors like YTB clients money just like other companies money. I was at cruise 360 and most everyone had a home based biz with a host agency. Everyone (LOTS of YTBers included) were there to learn more. So storefronts sell to your walkins and Interneters sell to everyone else. Remember the golden rule, and if you don't have something nice to say... rethink your answer.
Virtually Improve Your Business
Michael Browne shared an interesting take, recently, about how travel agents, specifically those working from home, can leverage help from virtual assistants to make their business more efficient. For the most part, it received positive feedback.
Jason Coleman, for instance, believes the practice should be implemented more throughout the industry, writing:
YES, YES, YES!!! This has been a huge key to my success. My business philosophy is "do what I do best, and leave the rest to everyone else." I actually have a number of offshore virtual employees I've never met, never talked to, and it's working out so well! For a fraction of what I can hire a part time office employee, I can hire a number of virtual employees whose shifts run 24-hours a day! I'm so happy to see you reporting on this trend. I think it's an untapped business key for agents!
But some readers weren't so enthused. JESS Kalinowsky, for instance, sees virtual assistants as a suckling tap on the U.S. job market, stating:
"Offshore" virtual assistants? With millions of people out of work in the good old USA, why are we employing "Offshore" people? Delta airlines, and others, received so many complaints about their Res Centers in foreign countries they are slowly bringing re s centers back to the USA, allowing people to work at home as few or many hours as they need. JETBLUE is almost 100% virtual agents. Instead of putting people in other countries to work, how about putting people in the USA to work? Just wondering? I know there is rampant unemployment in travel and tourism, and all that talent could be used, right here in America! Just saying!
I understand Jess' concerns, particularly in this economy. However, I don't think Michael suggests hiring virtual assistants from outside the country. They can work from anywhere, even right here in the United States. So, if you ask me, this practice may not only improve your travel business but may bring some extra clash flow to an American worker's home.
Fear of Facebook?
If you are reading this, then I'm guessing there's a 50/50 chance you are currently logged in to your Facebook account. The web monster has practically overtaken Internet porn in its popularity and is considered by some agents to be an effective tool while others appear to feel threatened by it. We learned about these feelings when writing about a new feature in the social community in which users can become "travel experts."
Steve appears unmoved by the option, writing:
Just my opinion...but seems most people on FB don't have much of a life.....posting stupid comments everytime they move. Ridiculous.
But some are a little concerned, like chuff0153, who shared thoughts at a discussion thread on AgentNation, stating:
Everyone talks about us evolving....well I think if we are not careful we are going to evolve ourselves right out of business. It is true facebook people may not be "experts" but many will put all kinds of roadblocks and hurdles in your path. We may not consider them experts...they THEY will and they will express themselves as so. Its just one more nail in the coffin..wait and see. One thing for sure if we aid in this process it WILL be used against us. Bet on it.
Meanwhile, there are those like Denyse, who see an opportunity. She wrote:
I think professionals should look at facebook in another light. It's not all people sitting around all day chatting. I use FB for my travel business and literally 97% of my business comes from FB! I also have some very professional people who are my clients. My very first client from FB is an attorney. Not too shabby. So, its not all stupid comments every time you move but a valuable resource to build your business and to FIND what you want. I have a very busy life (with my business) but I've found methods to market on FB without spending 12 hours there.
I love my friends and contacts in my Facebook network. But, seriously, there's no way their comments on travel (which usually begin and/or end with an "OMG" or "LOL") or pictures of someone acting like a jackass are going to influence my travel planning. I wouldn't be too concerned if I were a travel agent. But I'm not. So maybe I'm missing something? If so, let me know. Let's discuss.
Change in the Cruise Society
In addition to her detailed reporting on cruise3sixty 2010, Susan J. Young has been all over the cruise beat, including a recent report on Royal Caribbean's changes for its Crown & Anchor Society. The changes appear to benefit the consumer, but some agents have questions about the update.
Dale Borske of Cruise Planners, for starters, is not leaping out of the chair just yet, writing:
It is ridiculous to not have automatic registration for a guest in the Crown and Anchor. C'mon Vicky lets get RCCL up to date!
Darlene is skeptical as well, asking:
Should we be excited that they are returning a few benefits to members that were taken away just ast year? RCI has proven that they no longer value their best return customers, so I am not sure what Betsy is talking about.
From a consumer's perspective, these changes aren't so worthy. Robert Gellatly shared:
My wife and i have taken 7 trips with royal Caribbean, It;s apearent that the bigger the ship the worse the service, The Soverine had them all beat with service and hospitality. Crown and Anchor society members used to be treated special .Chocolate in the room, Robes, Coupon books given on the first day of travel, Now we have to ask for them only to get them on our last day at sea.Take lessons from the smaller ships.
So here we have readers on both the agent and consumer side saying this doesn't seem like such a big deal. Anyone want to weigh in on way this program change is worth noting?
Reminder: We are NOT Pet Airways
People LOVE their pets, obviously, and they clearly love to explore options for bringing them on vacation. That's why our initial report on Pet Airways pets-only flights receive so much attention on the site. Yet almost every comment seems to ask us to make changes to the airline, when we are simply reporting the news.
The latest reader that apparently feels we here at TravelAgentCentral.com are powerful enough to change operations of an airline with which we have no relationshipis Jane, who wrote:
I love this service. However, I have not been able to use it as there are no options for Boston (Logan) or RI (Greene) airports. There are many dog/cat lovers that would jump at your services instead of placing them in the "lower" quarters. You may need to rethink the areas you service. Thanks.
I'll see what I can do but, let's be honest, what can I really do besides contact them? I suggest you do so instead so I can spend more time scouring the site for zany and insightful comments, thank you.
And on that note, it's back to the inbox I go to see what you're talking about leading into next week. Keep posting your comments. You can also write us at our Facebook page, send a tweet to our Twitter page (@travelagentmag) and join discussions in real time at AgentNation. Until next week...
May 14, 2010
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: May 10-14
Before we get started this week, I'd like to suggest agents (particularly those with clients who are eager to visit Great Britain) take time this weekend, or sometime soon, to go see the new Robin Hood film by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and William Hurt. I had the privilege of seeing an advance screening this past Wednesday and, in my layman's opinion, not only is the film a subtle and original take on the legendary figure (that is neither hoaky nor driven by a Robin Hood that speaks with an American accent- sorry, Costner), it has some beautiful scenery that could further entice clients to make the journey across the pond. The backdrop of the film can remind clients about the bucolic regions of the country where they can go to truly escape and, perhaps, get in touch with the original sources of thei heritage. Visit www.visitbritain.com/en/campaigns/robinhood for more and you'll see what I mean.
That being said, let's take a look at what readers have been saying at TravelAgentCentral this week. I'm glad to report that most of the comments this week have been focused on helping agents through advice or warning.
More on Vacation Rentals
We've been discussing the potential impact that vacation rentals can have on an agent's business for almost a month now, and the conversation is not going away just yet. In fact, two readers shared some information on the topic just this week.
First up this week was michael chisholm, of Wimco Villas. He wrote:
As a sales agent working for a villa reservation company, we help Travel Agents all the time as we apprciate the need to further the villa vacation market. The company I work for, www.wimco.com represents villas in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, Europe and Nantucket and ALL our destinations have on island support for vactioners. In the ever expanding vacation rental marketplace, specialising in specfic destinations is important as this provides better accuracy overall.
Perhaps you are weary of potentially subjective information coming from a supplier, which is understandable. Therefore, I suggest you listen to Amanda, who posted:
Staying in hotels on vacation is a thing of the past! So many more people love the option of getting a vacation rental and having more privacy and more space. Not to mention how affordable they can be. I believe that vacation rentals are a great market for travel agents. I myself book vacation rentals and get nothing but great reviews.
Lisa is another non-supplier who is a strong supporter of this niche market, stating:
When in Hawaii, staying in a vacation rental whether it is in a villa or a home, it is the only way to go. I had the opportunity to work with the friendly staff at Tropical Villa Vacations, who showed a genuine concern for all of my travel needs. The location that we chose was perfect!
The fact that so many comments have been coming in on this topic over the course of a month (which is like years in Internet timing) is more than encouraging, to say the least. I hope agents take the opportunity to keep sharing more on the topic both here and at a discussion thread on AgentNation.
Speaking of AgentNation
Last week, we reported on Expedia's new Travel Agent Affiliate program and, although there have been no comments posted (yet) directly on the story, we've received feedback at our discussion thread on the matter at AgentNation. If you haven't signed up and/or logged in yet, here's what some agents had to share on the matter.
Angie was the first to respond, writing:
I am excited about this because now clients can't say "we booked it on Expedia". They will know we can get them the best price available no questions asked. I do have one question. I am trying to sign up online for the free sign up before June promo. It wants my bank info. Is that so they can bill us the 50dollars?
Meanwhile, user macaw_mom does not appear as enthused as Angie, posting:
I am not that excited. I see the online agencies like this worried they are losing to the True Travel Agent. Commission levels for TAAP are: 10% for Expedia Special Rate hotels $6 per booking for Agency Hotels 5% on vacation packages (flight+hotel, flight+car rental, flight+hotel+car rental). Note Minimum 3 night/3day Land Content 3% on vacation packages (flight+hotel, flight+car rental, flight+hotel+car rental). Note Less than 3 night/3day Land Content 10% for activities I just booked a 7 day vacation - Hotel/Air - my commission is $347.00 If I did it through Expedia - at 5% - my commission would have been $160.00 I work hard for my money - to build my business not theirs If people want to book from Orbitz or Expedia, I say okay... In 2010 I have seen an increase in customers, who say they are tired of spending so much time on the internet finding the best price. I will remain "true" to my agency & my customers, without affiliating with these online booking companies.
What's your take? Is the Expedia program an opportunity for agents as online travel agencies (OTAs) seek new relationships or is it, perhaps, a waste of time too late in the game? Agents chimed in on the subject at our Facebook page as well. Here is what some of them had to say.
Dedra Shahan wrote:
While it's wonderful to be recognized as valuable, I can't help but think these giant companies will market direct to our clients thus becoming Their clients. My prefered tour operators will price match. I work with companies that have always valued my expertise.
Laure Poffenberger shared:
They are chasing their tails now & realize what a great asset using a travel agent is. So much of travel just cannot be planned over the Internet & when there is a problem our clients want help from someone the know & trust. I in turn want to use a tour operator that I know & trust. I think OTA's are in trouble & are grasping at straws.
What are your thoughts? Hit us up by posting a comment below or at the original posting. You can also join the conversation at our Facebook page, send a tweet to us at our Twitter page (@travelagentmag) and join the discussion in real time at AgentNation.
Readers Request Answers
Sometimes, we write a report about a new business or supplier and some readers, apparently, believe that means we are that same business. That's flattering, in some regard, as they consider us the ultimate source of information on the matter. But as an organization that does its best to cover all aspects of the travel trade, it can be hard to answer specific questions.
For instance, we've received a lot of attention to our initial report on the introduction of Pet Airways to the industry. Most recently, one reader inquired about potential flights to Europe on the carrier.
Gisela Gonzalez Flores-Clarke wrote:
Your service looks fantastic!! When are you opening flights to Europe? I need to travel to England twice a year and need to bring my 5 kilo Yorkie. Sending him in the hold is definately not a option for me!!! I do hope you start service to Europe asap!!!!!!!!
I wish I had an answer for you, Gisela. With the company now just more than a year old, I kind of doubt they will be doing flights outside of the United States just yet. However, perhaps if you take a gander at the Help section Pet Airways web site you can find the answers you need, be it a timetable on potential flights or a straight up answer if it is going to happen, ever.
James Collier recently commented on a story in a similar manner. After learning about Tourism Ireland's new Golden Trekker for seniors riding Irish Rail, he commented:
This development is very welcome, my sister was born in UK of Irish parentd and they returned to Ireland when she was 2, she went to nurse in UKwhen she was 18 and has lived there since. She comes to stay with us each year and this will be very useful. I write for the Senior Times and I would appreciate an e-mail of this information and any other useful information for seniors travelling, including reserving seats, etc.
116 Sea Park, Malahide
James, I'd be delighted to help you by sharing any information I can find. However, you did not provide an e-mail for me to contact you. Can you post it in a comment or contact me at email@example.com and I'll see what I can do? Until then, if any agents and readers out there can share additional information on this program, that would be a great help. It runs through the end of the year. Here's the Tourism Ireland web site, which may provide answers: www.tourismireland.com.
America('s Vacation Center) is Under Attack!
Two months ago, there was a lot of attention on the temporary demise of Travelport and it transitioned to discussions on how an agent's leads may be affected. But as much as the conversation was based around Travelport, one reader brough America's Vacation Center (AVC) into the fray.
Mary brought it up, writing:
Beware of AVC They will take 70% of your commission and all referrals generated from that one lead will be their's, again taking 70% commision. I was promised the referrals as my own, which I thought would be worth giving up that initial commission,but boy was I wrong. I was hounded on every extra person that booked their trip and asked if they came from their live lead. They took that customer as their own because they were referred.. Also, all of my customer base that I put into their system at the time so I could market to them, are still being marketed to by AVC after I quit them as my host agency. That is so wrong. Just my 2cents worth.
Note that this is Mary's opinion and not that of the staff her at Travel Agent. Regardless, that's disappointing to read. Anyone out there able to support or rebuff Mary's take on AVC? I'd like to learn more (and I doubt I'm alone).
Advice for an Editor
Normally, an exchange between readers and writers/editors on the site involves our staff responding with some information to help our audience. But this week, we was a bit of the reverse happen as our own Jena Tesse Fox journeyed to Durban, South Africa for the 2010 Indaba trade show (the largest in Africa). Read her most recent report here.
But before Jen hit the trade show floor to share reports, she took a seemingly endless journey across the Atlantic Ocean, most of it pleasant thanks to South African Airlines. On the topic of drinking too much or not enough coffee before a flight, reader Alfredo Tor-Paz made a suggestion to Jena, stating:
In spite of the strong coffee, never drink so much caffeine after 6pm, it is a very good airline, SAA, my comment, would be over the transfer to domestic, there is no place to complain much....have you tried to fly via the USA??? Horror, thanks for reminding that, I still prefer transferring thru JNB...my grain of sand or salt.
I am currently in the midst of what has been numerous attempts to cut back on coffeed, and it is indeed hard. Still, Afredo's comments are spot on regarding drinking it at night. Hopefully Jena takes his advice before flying back next week.
Speaking of next week... we'll catch up again on what's causing buzz around the industry and at TravelAgentCentral. Keep the comments coming (below or elsewhere) and don't forget to extend to conversation to other outlets such as our Facebook page, our Twitter page (@travelagentmag) and in real time at AgentNation
January 08, 2010
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: January 4-8
Happy Frozen New Year to all! Wherever you are, I hope it's nowhere near the below 20 degree temperatures we've had in New York at times. Whether through the grapevine, on Facebook or elsewhere, I've heard plenty of friends, friends of friends, colleagues, friends of colleauges, and, finally, colleagues of friends, complain about the 40 degrees in Orlando and I empathize, but don't sympathize. Just the other night I was outdoors when the wind chill and "feels like" factors were below zero. But it was worth it. Let's dive right on in to the first comments of the year.
New Year, Same Old YTB & Traverus
Just because I sounded off on one of the people who get over-crazed about YTB doesn't mean I'm going to leave them out of the lineup forever. George Dooley wrote his first report on the company for the year, which included some insight from John Frenaye. That insight has been addressed by one reader, Peter, who wrote:
Frenaye is an idiot and so is the Legal Team who can't grasp that the "lions share of the income derived" does not require payment in order to participate.
YTB sold 5 times that amount in TRAVEL but derived $27m from $425m in travel sales.
Do you dolts actually think this pipe dream of a suit is going any further than it did the first two times?
Good luck with that.
It doesn't suprise me that an outraged reader has reverted to childish name calling. Peter, I can't tell if your point about the money made has anything to do with the manner in which it was made by who. Plus, if this suit goes as far as the one in California, YTB may have some paying to do, poopypants.
For nearly a year now, a Dooley piece that questioned the operations of TraVerus Travel Network has received a lot of comments (one we even had to remove due to court order). But the latest appears of great significance as it is, apparently, by a former employee named Blake, who shared:
I was a Regional Executive with TraVerus about to go National. I had recruited many, many people and things were looking great...the things changed!! The AG stepped-in and instructed TraVerus to make changes or shut-down! Products were introduced and became mandatory to purchase. TraVerus became what I hated the most about the MLM industry, just another Lotion & Potion company with very little travel being sold! Glad I got out when I did even though I had a huge downline!!
It's great to see that you got out in time, Blake. Do you have any advice for anyone affected by the company or wish to hear from others like you? Post something below, I'll get you connected.
Return to Cruise Rebating
In the last weekly wrap, not the yearly wrap, agents were at the high point of discussing whether cruise rebating got better or worse or stayed the same in 2009. Carrying the the conversation into 2010 is Denise, who offers her opinion and a potential solution, stating:
All the cuise lines should eliminate the ability to rebate which would force us all to play on a level playing field. For a small online agency, competing directly with VTG and Smart Cruiser, it is difficult to not offer discounts.
I'm no expert on this matter, but it seems that Denise's idea in eliminating all rebating may create an "only the strong survive" environment among agents. Is that what travel professionals want?
Paws Before Passengers
One of the sweeter stories of 2009 was Pet Airways, the airline for animal travelers only. It comes as no surprise that people are still talking about it in 2010. Pat Griswold wrote:
This is a great service for pet owners and I would imagine these pets will get service than their humans will get with the regular airlines.
I am sure those pets get the best experience anyone could wish for. After all, your "business" is cleaned up by someone else as you walk away. Most pets deserve that, like this golden retriever that saved one of its owners from a cougar in Canada.
By the way, Pat, did you get a chance to see Clark Griswold this holiday season? If so, I hope it was better than some of his past Christmas experiences.
A "Super" Comment
If you ask me, in all honesty, the Cruise Lines International Association launching a new website is not the most exciting story to discuss. But I'm just a web journalist, not a Super Bowl quarterback like Tom Brady, who apparently took time from his busy schedule of leading the New England Patriots to the playoffs and being the husband of Giselle Bündchen to share his enthusiasm, saying:
CLIA is reaching more millions of cruise consumers with this new web site www.cruising.org and 16,000 CLIA travel agents on a regular basis. It is very user friendly and a useful cruise reference tool for the industry, agent, and family, couple, or group who are planning their next cruise vacation.
Tom, thanks so much for stopping by. Please continue reading this page every day instead of your playbook. Please browse our site every day instead of practicing (you need to rest those ribs anyway). Not only do we want your support and interest, I don't want you to be at your best this weekend. Why? Check the link above where I said the time I was outdoors was "worth it."
Speaking of CLIA, the other day we showcased an ongoing discussion by agents about whether it was better to go through a host agency or not regarding CLIA. It just goes to show that AgentNation is the place for travel professionals to network on anything from business tips to operations questions. If you haven't signed up yet, do so today and find out what you've been missing.
July 17, 2009
Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments July 13-17
I know some of the more boring or forced conversations among friends, colleagues, and passers-by tend to begin about the weather, and I don't know how the climate has be behaved around your neck of the woods, but here in New York it's been an unpredictable of hot and cool, dry and sopping, pleasant and painful. The same can be said about the array of comments I saw this week on TravelAgentCentral.com, but by no means am I implying that the discussions have been as boring as a discussion about the weather. Some comments have been joyous, some abrasive. Some are bold and some are light. See for yourself, because here we go...
The Industry's First Furry Employee
There's the film Hotel For Dogs (see clip below), there's a hotel for dogs in Michigan, and now there's a hotel that has hired a dog for work.
The Hudson Valley's Tarrytown House Estate & Conference Center earlier this week introduced its newest employee: Lady, a year-old black Labrador retriever who has been employed to chase geese away from the 26-acre property. Although I am not sure what Lady's hours or compensation may be (guessing hours are whenever she wants and pay is whatever she's hungry for), I am certainly jealous. Who wouldn't want to earn their keep frolicking around a gigantic lawn and yelling at geese? Okay, I sound crazy now.
Lady is new to the job and she already has a big fan, Rita Ricciardi, who wrote:
Lady is a wonderful addition to the Tarrytown House Estate & Conference Center. She will be turning 1 on August 3rd. Lady loves to run and play ball
Thanks for the tip, Rita. Are you fishing for someone to send her a little round toy for her birthday?
The canine employee wasn't the only pet to receive praise this week. Although we first reported about it back in April, Pet Airways made the headlines recently for its inaugural flight. Lynn must have come across our story while seeking some more information on the airline, or maybe she just wanted to brag about her pooch, saying:
Great idea. We live in Balto and Bandit is rarin to travel. He's got 2 Black Eyes.. so flying cargo has no appeal.
Sounds like Bandit and other pooches will have an easier time traveling in the future. The same goes for passengers. Last fall, I was on a JetBlue flight home from Syracuse after visiting my godson and the woman sitting next to me had a tiny cockapoo type of dog that wouldn't stop yapping the entire time. I could have used The Dog Whisperer's Cesar Millan that day more than anything.
After hearing more about Pet Airways, and my parallel story alluded to above, my colleague Michael Browne had an interesting idea for a new kind of airline: Baby Airways- where crying babies are given exclusive care and attention, while passengers on either planes rest at ease. It could happen, right? Actually, we both figure there'd be too many legal and detachment issues. People will just have to take certain things into consideration when traveling with kids instead. Mike's got some good advice on that in one of his recent blogs, check it out.
Scam Watch: TraVerus Travel & JoyStar
Our only reference to YTB this week will be to point out that it is not the only travel company that has caused much hubub on this site for quite some time. For instance, there is also TraVerus Travel, which George Dooley began raising flags about back in February. There was a lot of banter back and forth between readers for awhile, carrying on through April. Things were then quiet until this week, when joan Ciccarelli chimed in, posting:
I went for the Traverus Travel hype and became a Certified travel Agent. yes they give you great training. I am Canadian and it is 75.00 U.S. per month. Plus they push you to be a network marketer . yes that is where the money is. all I wanted to be was a Travel agent.and I must admit they do give you lots and lots of training. but Being in Canada. the cost is more and to get the new products out that Traverus now have. it costs more per month, and it was going to cost 55.00 to have the products shipped to Canada. now I have left the company when I stopped and thought about it being almost like a Pyramid scheme. as how many travel agents are needed across the country and countries. I was not the type to go after my friends and Family. in some cases people can make money and yes they honestly pay you. but as I said how many people can be travel agents it makes a glut on the market , and makes it very hard to advertise when it is all in American money. so if you are Canadians beware.
Joan isn't the only agent who is searching for bluer skies after moving on from a controversial company. After a few weeks of silence on host agency JoyStar, a reader shared her verbal catharsis with us on the now bankrupt company. Angela is looking ahead, writing:
Thank Goodness I got out of there on time. I'm starting with another travel agency which I can work from home, and I'm also going to be taught hands on training as well.
Don't look back, Joan and Angela.
Musicians, Agents, Government Unite Against United, Sort Of
Agents have been crying foul at United Airlines proposed policy on credit card cost transfers for quite some time. Although the outcry gained some media attention, an artist's ability to transform his frustration with the airline into a YouTube video has soared above the credit card policy story, adding more negative publicity for the airline. Click through a link to the video here to watch it, and perhaps you'll see why some readers have been so emphatic about the country singer's performance.
Brilliant work Dave! I'm tired of suppliers like United thinking it is acceptable to treat my clients like garbage - while my clients pay a pretty penny for the priviledge.
Marinus boldly added:
It's about time. I'm even considering hiring them to take on a few other corporate entities that believe service doesn't matter. Burn them.
And JLM touches on my analysis of the video, writing:
I believe that now when many people get rude, indifferent or patronizing customer service the new tool that customers have is to quote "United Breaks Guitars" We are only beginning to see the power of the web
Sometimes, it takes a rock star to do a legal man's job (Bono, anyone?). But that doesn't mean the U.S government is sitting back while United Airlines readies to implement this policy (going in effect Monday). In fact, this week members of the House of Representatives and Senate sent letters to United's CEO, sharing their disapproval of the policy. While this latest show of support certainly inspires some agents, one reader, going by the clever name of I am a travel agent, is a little forthright on the matter, saying:
I hear and read everybody complaining about the credit card charge. I say tough live with it. Travel Agents and Travel Agencies don't have the guts to say to United that they will not sell their product anymore. STOP SELLING UNITED AIRLINESand see what happens.
Meanwhile, Susan Maurer isn't so much upset with United as she seems to be with the credit card companies, commenting:
You would think that VISA and MasterCard would get behind agents position as the suggested "solution" is to use UATP cards.
What's your opinion here? Should the credit cards come the the aid of agents like a musician and members of Congress have? Is boycotting United the best or only answer?