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?