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Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: March 15-19

March 19, 2010 By: Kirk Cassels

Following up on last week's report that travel agents are not dead, this week we find some are angry, some are making good suggestions, and some don't pay attention to dates and links. Let's take a look.

More of the Usual Suspects

If you've been following the Weekly Wrap for awhile, then you're famliar with the hate-hate relationship between members of YTB and John Frenaye. After sharing some retorts from Frenaye in last week's Wrap, it's now time to share a response from a YTB person. Enjoy as Tracy returns to the scene of the argument to fire back at Frenaye, saying:

John Frenaye...No matter what I do not find you honorable in any way. Respected? hardly.
YTB will not be going away. The way travel was booked is going away- i is a different era. It has nothing to do with YTB- it is a SHIFT and there is nothing you can do to stop it. The people have spoken and they have voiced their choice. Book and buy online.

As usual, I'm not getting involved here. Though I will agree that shift happens, sometimes, just not everywhere and all the time.

Alaska Vs. Cruise Companies

Nearly two years removed from when Alaska was making headlines as its governor ran for Vice President of the United States, the 49th state was the subject of all media for one day (at least) at this year's Cruise Shipping Miami. As some cruise lines decided to pull their ships out of Alaska, and another considers a lawsuit against the state, it was time for state officials and cruise executives to meet face-to-face. They did and, after reading Susan J. Young's report on the event, an Alaskan shares his opinion on what cruise lines should do. Pete Schneidler posted:

Remember that tourism is only a very small part of the oil business in Alaska, which generates over 90% of all state revenues by itself. It's a big deal in Southeast Alaska, but irrelevant to 90% of Alaskans, who as a rule tend to mistrust government and large outside corporations. Alaskans have bristled at the arrogant, belligerent attitude of the cruise lines who appeared to want to dictate the terms to us, and not vice versa.  Many of us Alaskans are willing to sacrifice some percentage of cruise revenues in exchange for less summer crowds, CLEANER ships (no more sewage dumping and then attempted coverups), and not having to live under the thumb of the cruise lines. I hope we don't cave to their every whim. Alaska is a truly awesome cruise destination, even if it costs more than it used to. Fill some ships, move others, fine.

Reading Peter's comments and those made by Stein Kruse and others in the article, it's tough to take sides if you are not an Alaskan or a member of the cruise industry (including consumers who enjoy a nice sojourn in the state). But at least the two parties are meeting to address the issue, and I think Governor Parnell deserves some credit for attending, listening to the criticism, and responding. Keep in mind that the guy's been in office barely nine months and, at this time last year, probably was not expecting to jump in to such big responsibilities in the first place.

Save Money to Spend Money

As would be expected, many in the travel industry applauded the passing of the Travel Promotion Act, which aims to stimulate international travel to the U.S. and, in turn, boost the economy. But shortly after President Obama signed the bill, the State Department proposed an increase in passport costs for foreign vistors. Both the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA) immediately criticized the notion, and spawned an idea from a fellow reader. jess kalinowsky suggested:

instead of raising the fee for a passport the federal government should be lowering the fee to help stimulate the travel industry! The largest civilized country on the planet has the lowest percentage of citizens that have passports

Seems logical to think that the government is being contradictory in increasing the price on what it costs to visit the U.S.  shortly after the public and private sector came together to get more international dollars into the country. We'll keep an eye on this passport situation as it develops, and we're sure you will be, too.

Not Dead, Maybe Blind, But Definitely Not Dead

This week's victory for the agent community took place when its backlash against iTrek's "The Travel Agent is Dead" contest influenced Travel Guard to put the kibosh on the program. While last week the converstaion steered toward insurance company AIG, this week is more about who's talking about who.

For starters, commenting on the shut-down of the contest, Linda wrote:

Have you read the snide remarks on iTrek's web site in response to the cancellation of the competition? They are very hostile towards travel agents. Click on the competition web site and see.

Linda didn't provide the url and, to be honest, neither am I. Why? Two reasons:
Who cares what iTrek thinks? Let them play their didgeridoos, drink their Fosters, and argue about whether Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, or Eric Bana is the bigger stud actor from Australia (we know it's not Mel Gibson nor Orlando Bloom).
2. If you go to their website, you're abandoning me here at TravelAgentCentral and I want to spend more time with you.

Then there's Jake, who probably wouldn't visit the iTrek site even if Linda or I wrote the link for him to see because it appears he has trouble seeing links to updates and reading publish dates.

Speaking about the initial report about "The Travel Agent Is Dead" contest, he wrote:

This promotion was ended lat week at the behest of Travel Guard. They care more about travel agents than any of you think.

Jake posted that comment on March 18. The comments to which he is referring were all posted on or before March 12. George Dooley's follow up on Travel Guard shutting down the program was published March 14, and I made sure to link to it in the initial report, which was published March 8. Just check out the screen shot below.

I don't know why Jake doesn't think that people who would take the time to read and comment on this article wouldn't come back to check up the latest update. Either way, I would like to thank him for stopping by to share his take on the update with us. Travel Guard probably does care about agents (and/or their business). At least they seemed to as of or back in April of 2009.

Whether you are pro- or anti-YTB, for or against regulations on cruises to Alaska, or you read links or pass them by, we want to remind you that the conversation never ends here. No matter what the topic, we want to hear from you. So keep those comment posting. Write us at our Facebook page. Send a tweet to us at our Twitter page. And don't forget to sign up for and log in to AgentNation. Until next week...

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