Monday Briefing: World’s Largest Cruise Ship Makes U.S. Debut, Travelers Won’t Change Plans Post-Election

harmony of the seas sailing out of port everglades, florida

The U.S. debut of Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, a look at what travelers are planning post-election and a potential credit card data breach at the Sentinel Hotel in central Portland, OR, are the travel industry headlines to watch this morning. 

Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas Makes U.S. Debut

In cruise news, Royal Caribbean’s new Harmony of the Seas set sail on its first cruise from its new homeport, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL, over the weekend. The ship set sail with a celebration that included 16 jet board and jetpack riders from Aquafly Hydroflight Sports Performance Team

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The ship will join Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas on the east coast of Florida – which are homeported in Port Canaveral and Port Everglades respectively – and sail seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries, calling at ports throughout the Caribbean and Mexico

Travel Agent is sailing on the ship this week as part of our coverage of this year’s Cruise Planners conference — stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for a photo tour. 

Study: Americans Won’t Change Travel Plans Post-Election

Also this week, Americans are counting down to the presidential election — but no matter who wins, U.S. travelers say they won’t change their travel plans, according to the Travelzoo Fall 2016 Travel Trends Survey.

The study was conducted using an online questionnaire completed by 1,106 Travelzoo members in the United States and via an online questionnaire of 2,007 U.S. consumers by third-party research agency Atomik in October 2016. 

The results: 68 percent of respondents say their travel plans will not change if Hillary Clinton wins the White House, while 16 percent say their traveling will increase. The results are similar for if Donald Trump wins, with 61 percent predicting they will travel just as much, and 16 percent saying that they will travel more. 

Other items of note from the survey including increased interest in travel to Canada and the UK. One third of respondents said that Canada’s reputation as a travel destination has significantly benefited from this election, while 36 percent say that they are considering travel to the UK due to the favorable dollar-pound exchange rate following the Brexit vote. Travelzoo also said it has seen a 38 percent increase in UK searches on its website since the Brexit vote in June. 

Potential Credit Card Data Breach at Sentinel Hotel

Finally, in hotel news, Sentinel Hotel in central Portland reports that it has taken action to investigate a potential incident involving payment card data at the hotel’s front desk. 

After receiving reports of unauthorized charges occurring on the payment cards of some of its guests after they had used their card at the Sentinel Hotel, Sentinel said it launched an investigation and hired a computer security firm to assist. On October 5, the investigation identified signs that an unauthorized program was installed on one of the payment terminals at the hotel's front desk designed to copy data as it was input into the terminal. The program could have copied payment card data – including cardholder name, payment card account number, card expiration date, and verification code – of guests who used a payment card at this one terminal during the period from July 12 to October 3.  Cards used on the Sentinel website were not affected, the hotel said. 

Sentinel said that it has stopped this incident and continues to work with the computer security firm to strengthen security. The hotel has also notified law enforcement and will continue to support their investigation. 

Sentinel said it will send a letter or email to guests it can identify as having used their payment card at the affected terminal during the at-risk window and for whom Sentinel has a mailing address or email address. Guests with questions may visit www.sentinelhotel.com/protectingourcustomers or call 844-565-4394 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. PT, Monday to Friday. 

The Latest From the Cruise Planners Conference

Finally, in case you missed it, Travel Agent’s Susan Young is sailing on Harmony of the Seas for this year’s Cruise Planners conference. You can check out our firsthand report on the latest stats and trends from the conference here, and stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for more news from this year’s event. 

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