Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: December 7-11

It's below freezing in New York City today for the first time since the first quarter of 2009, and temperatures breached the 60-degree mark just last week. If I were an activist, or perhaps if I were just active, I'd be up in arms about the climate summit in Copenhagen this week as I wonder why I am sweating one day (in December) before freezing the next.

Instead, there's been other questions occupying my mind, such as, "how the hell did the Pittsburgh Steelers (last year's Super Bowl champions) lose to the Cleveland Browns (coached by a man who was fortunately let go from my New York Jets) last night?" and "will James Cameron's Avatar live up to the hype when it comes out next week?" The fact that the film merges three major elements from Cameron's best films (aliens, machines and super soldiers) into one screening, leads me to believe that I'll be satisfied enough.


Also on my mind, of course, is what the readers of have been saying during the past week. Most have been talking about what one can assume most travel professionals would enjoy discussing: Caribbean islands, Mexico beaches, cruises, making money, and, of course... YTB! Yes, they're back. Lets' take a look.

Why More YTB?

We came so close to going a full month without mentioning YTB in the weekly wrap, but you can't appreciate the holiday spriti without a grinch. Not to say that I consider a reader named Jeff a grinch, but what he posted as a response to JJ's comment on a lawsuit against YTB in Illinois may damper his mood, as well as Tracy's. Jeff wrote:

JJ: Seems your GED advice applies equally to "real" travel agents; read Tracy's comments. Sue the CTC she is, also is English impaired.

Ah, that sweet, sweet buzz of banter and babble that doesn't address an issue but gets personal. I almost missed it, much like someone who once lived near an airport must miss the sound of planes taking off and landing after they move into a new home.

Addressing Antigua Again

Last week, I cited a comment made by a reader named pellucid about the crime rate on the island of Antigua. The comment was posted on a Luxury Travel Expo report about Antigua's promotion of its luxury product. This week, a reader who chose the name of Good Luck responded to pellucid's comment, stating:

Antigua is a beautiful island with so much to offer...sadly in a tourism-based economy it's going to take a lot more than a few decent PR hits to entice visitors from abroad to go and spend. Frugality and conservation are power-words in everyone's vocab these days ....and as pellucid so inaccurately pointed out, there are a lot of negative incidents that paint a terrible picture of this island paradise. Addressing domestic issues first, then showing your best face to the rest of the world would be you're greatest asset right now ANU... I've got unconditional love for you, but the rest of the world needs to be reminded of what a gem you truly are...

Good Luck, whoever you are, those are some pretty words. Sounds like Renee DeSuza, and the rest of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism could use your talents in promoting the island. What do you say? Shall we make some calls?

Pike Does Me A Solid

Recently, we published a story by Joe Pike about his visit to Cuba because, although the story is not released in print until later, we just could not wait to see how readers would respond... and respond they did. J August was the first to spout of, writing:

What a pile of hooey, whoever wrote it spent more time on the internet than in Cuba.
Majority of rooms are not in Northern Havana and there are 1.5 golf courses in all of Cuba, one 9 hole in Havana and one 18 hole in Varadero and Hemingway hung out at the Floridita

Pike obviously took the opportunity to retort the comments made by J August and a few others, and I can't thank him enough not only for taking some time off my hands but for engaging the audience further with his responsive piece. I could cut and paste it all for you hear but, as you just read, I enjoy taking time off my hands. So read his original report on Cuba here and catch his response to comments here, where you can see others have shared their opinion as well.

Is Anyone Here A Marine Biologist?

Staying on the topic of our Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America editor, another Pike report this week was on Cancun's beach recovery project, which will add tons of sand to the destination's shores. Sounds like a good idea, right? Not according to Andrew Seligman, who posted:

According to recent reports, by changing the shapes of the sand structures they risk the destruction of coral reefs and disruption of other marine life.

My brother was a biology major at Duke University and he concentrated somewhat in marine biology. So I'll check in with him to get his take and fill Andrew and Joe in about it later. But until then I can't say whether I think this beach project in Cancun is good or bad for the local habitat. But I will see that it seems like so many other environmental issues in that one solution may spawn another problem. For instance, solar power sounds like a fabulous idea for renewable energy that is eco-friendly. But mass usage would require tons of water, which could certainly intensify drought fears. On a lighter note, did anyone get my "Seinfeld" reference in the sub-headline?


What's Your Opinion on Cruise Rebates?

We asked our readers if they thought cruise rebating was getting better or worse, or staying the same in 2009 and as several voted, one shared their two cents. Azzouz Amirouche shared:

We only do it when we have to match a price. Most of the time we have the best price and amenities anyway thanks to our wonderful consortium, Signature travel network!

A nice enorsement for your consortium, Azzouz (BTW feel free to give your consortium a shoutout via comment here). As of now, the majority of voters appear cruise rebating is getting worse. Anyone disagree? Anyone agree but want to add some detail and clarity?

Words to Work by in 2010

As is to be expected, Ruthanne Terrero recently shared some encouraging words and sound advice for agents who are anxious to shrug off the rough patches that were in 2009 and look toward promising times in 2010. Her advice on setting a 2010 strategy struck a chord with one Dilworth E Daley, who commented:

I fully agree with all the words stated here. I will follow whats said here also.

Dilworth, I am sure Ruthanne appreciates your feedback. Please let us know about the success you find after following what was said. You can share it with us here, you can e-mail me at [email protected], and you can share it with all of your peers at AgentNation, the online social community for all types of travel agents. While you're there, you can share some other tips of the trade with your peers and get some in return.

Until next week...