Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: July 19-23

I'll be honest. During the summer, it's hard to find comments by readers of Travel Agent to share in the Weekly Wrap for two reasons: 1. many take a break in the summer 2. sometimes the heat has clearly gotten to those commenting as what they write can be too outrageous.

So this week, I was pleased to see a plethora of feedback, even tough some of it was on YTB. Let's take a look.

YTB Re-Enters the Fray

When YTB recently announced changes to its compensation structure for executives, George Dooley did some investigating by connecting with noted YTB critic John Frenaye and perusing the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In addition to digging up some information, he also stirred up one reader, Doug Bauknight, who wrote:

While the "knowledgeable source" admits he's "not sure what to make of it" - anyone who can read sure can. The Founders are holding themselves more accountable - not getting ready to resign. If you think the Board of Directors would approve a single dime in severance if any of them rode off into the sunset - you belong in John's "Den". If you want to read something that knowledgeable (and accurate) hop on over to my blog. (Or read the entire SEC filing. It's in English.

Dooley spoke with Bauknight last year, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he's back to defend YTB. As usual, I'm staying out of this and yielding the floor to anyone who wishes to join the discussion. Thoughts anyone?

Online Vs Human

When Orbitz announced its new program for traditional travel agents, we offered the company an opportunity to address the community, which they did. So we wanted to do the same for Expedia, which has launched its Travel Agent Affiliate Program, and they shared their thoughts with us as well. Readers shared their thoughts both at Expedia's op-ed piece as well as at our Facebook page.

Commenting on the article, a reader named Air Carrier wrote:

Intersting-Expida, like Orbitz, who both trid to put us out of business, suddenly wants to partner with us. The VP-has said nothing that I as a traditional agent dont alreay have. They are just like regular tour suppliers-trying to get our business, and elimiating us in the process. His speech is just another somkecreen. I've been an agent for 38 years.

Meanwhile, at our Facebook page, Go Marie shared her thoughts, posting:

Hmmm. Okay I've been following this for quite some time. These online giants are finally reaching out to the traditional travel agents with our little sites? Affiliates? They are trying to create a spider web into the stream of clients that traditional travel agents are gaining. Thus the Giant Google Travel site will point back to them.
Why GOOGLE & ITA software merge.
Expedia is worried about Google/ITA deal
ITA was in collabo with Orbitz. Orbitz hired ITA for the purpose of direct information on flights straight from airlines
Do you know how powerful this information is???
Yah Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz now opens it's arms to travel agents.
I get it now.

Marie is definitely right about Google. As the Internet monster enters the travel business, it's got leaders at all companies tugging their collars. Does this mean traditional agents and online travel agencies should strengthen their bond? Let me know your thoughts.

Nice Places to Go

Let's take a break from the controversial now and focus on something more positive. Two stories recently received some feedback that leads me to believe the content was helpful. First, Trevor Cartman commented on Jena Tesse Fox's recent blog entry about her Rail Europe journey to Lugano, Switzerland, saying:

This is a great post Jena. What an experience this was. Thanks for the info.

While meeting South Africa Tourism CEO Thandiwe Sylvia January-McLean in New York last night, one of the public relations representatives made a point of telling me how much she enjoyed Jena's coverage of her touring of South Africa last month. Nice to see Europe is getting a taste of her talent as well.

The Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa & Casino in Curacao is another story that got some praise this week, as Nina posted:

It is a great hotel with lots of history. I stayed there in October and can't wait to go back. You are in town so you can walk to restaurants,museums,shopping,etc.I highly recommend the hotel.

There you have it, an agent endorsement! Looks like you should start looking more into this property.

More on Cruise Rebating

The topic of cruise rebating was a hot one at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010. Travel Agent shared poll results and agent feedback on the matter back then, and now that Carnival is taking another step in the matter when it comes to advertising, I'm not surprised that the subject has come back under the spotlight. Commenting on our coverage from late 2009, CabinVacationGuide shared:

Most professionals should have the money to pay for the trip expense. I do know some companies that do trade advertising space for trips and it works out good for them

Sounds great, CabinVacationGuide. But who are these wonderful companies of which you speak? I'm sure our readers would like to know, right?

Airline Notes

Whether its pet policies, regulation proposals or an opinion about an executive, air travel received a lot of attention this week. First, one reader, a b s, points out an update in American Airlines' (AA) policy regarding flying with pets, noting:

American Airlines according to their website now only transports "dogs/cats" no other animals 7.18.2010

Indeed, this is sad news for owners of frogs, fish, monkeys, iguanas and other exotic creatures. My violin is playing for you.

The same day a b s shared his/her update of information on AA's policy, one reader, e krueck, shared his/her opinion on Richard Branson and his attacks on the potential AA alliance with British Airways, posting:

the usual 'blah, blah, blah' by the showman himself !

Branson sure is a charismatic ham, isn't he? Just see what he had the guts to do when sitting as a guest on Stephen Colbert's "The Colber Report" in the clip below:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Richard Branson
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

As much as Branson pushes peoples' buttons, I do admire his efforts to make travel more eco-friendly and appreciate his support for Las Vegas as well as Florida during these tough times. But that's just my opinion.

Finally, another Dooley item got attention when he explored the question as to whether airlines should undergo some re-regulation. Rob S doesn't seem too enthused, writing

Oh good. The feds have airport security all screwed up. They have ancient ATC computer systems and can't keep up with air traffic demand, but they want to run the airlines again? How many more kickbacks to the unions are the democrats going to stick us with?

Between ancillary fees, tarmac delays and more, I don't think anyone is going to be too happy with airlines too soon. But we can remain optimistic, right?

As always, don't let the conversation end here. We want to hear from you. Post a comment below or at any of the cited articles. Write us at our Facebook page. Send a tweet to our Twitter page (@travelagentmag). Log on to AgentNation for real time dialogue.

While you're here, I'd like to let you know that the Weekly Wrap has been upgrade to print! (so to speak). Pick up the latest issue in print or in digital and check out Hot Buttons, were I cite some of the recent trends in the industry and share reader feedback. Maybe you'll make the pages?!

Until next week...

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