It is always a long week when you return from a holiday weekend, especially when you get sick. After a fairly laid-back Fourth of July weekend, everything seemed fine at work on Monday, but then I woke up at dawn Tuesday with my second-ever migraine. As the crack of light through the bedroom window pierced my skull, all I could think was, "Oh no! Who's going to keep a tally of notes on all of the comments posted on TravelAgentCentral.com?"
Actually, I didn't think that at all but instead tried my best to dictate notes to my fiancée for her to enter into the body of an e-mail to send to Ruthanne and Michael, informing them that I would not be in that day, because even a glimpse at a computer screen felt like a jackhammer. I didn't return until Thursday, and even now there's a tad of pain, but things could be worse. I'd like to thank Ruthanne and Mike, as well as our interns (Alexia, Brittany, Meagan, Megan and Lindsey) for taking the reins while I lay in bed with a cold compress on my head, the lights turned off and the shades drawn like a melodramatic, depressed teenager.
And now on to your comments for the week...
The Peoples' Candidate?
Alan Fiermonte recently announced his campaign for election to ASTA's Board, and although he's not promising "change we can believe in" nor is he directly referring to himself as a maverick or renegade, his "Solid Idea Express" campaign is taking direct aim at ASTA with plans to "rehabilitate its finances and management." He already has K. Sen's endorsement, who posted:
As an industry veteran (25+ years) I congratulate Alan Fiermonte for actually having a platform / agenda for what he hopes to achieve at ASTA, as opposed to many other candidates who simply claim that their 'experience' warrants my vote. The issues raised by Alan are very pertinent as my own interaction with ASTA shows that it has become a top-heavy institution sometimes acting against the interests of rank and file members.
Now this may be a tough question to answer after the recent efforts ASTA has made in response to United Airline's new credit card policy, but do Alan and/or K. Sen's words hold merit with you? As a political junky who screened MSNBC (the Obama network), CNN (the Clinton Network) and Fox News (the Palin network) religiously during the 2008 presidential campaign, I am yearning for some butt-your-head political dialogue. Feed me!
Shell Shock On The Runway
Ever since Captain Sullivan saved the lives of those aboard the US Airways flight that crashed in the Hudson, birds, geese and all things fowl have been a reiterated concern among airlines and airports. Apparently, they are not alone. It seems turtles can cause trouble too, as a few got plowed at John F Kennedy airport in New York, causing several delays. While we await a response from PETA and the ASPCA, Melissa Schmidt chimed in, saying:
What a darling story! These little Turtles are so cute! Wonder if anyone captured this on tape?
Melissa, first off, if you think a multi-ton airplane running over turtles is darling, I wonder if anything can terrify you. Secondly, I just did a search for videos on the matter and came up with nothing. I did, however, find a video I think you should watch for educational purposes. After all, I don't think Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Raphael would be too pleased with this incident and may seek revenge. Better bone up on your martial arts skills.
More On Paper Vs. Electronic
Two weeks ago, it appeared as if we wrapped up the discussion about Carnival Cruise Line's decision to abandon paper documents for electronic documents. For the most part, agents were against the idea and preferred the option of paper documents. But then there's Birgitt Pajarola, who commented:
I'm probably in the minority but I think e-docs are fine for the mass cruise market client. It is 100% more efficient for all involved. What does a client expect who pays bargain price on a ship that carries more than 1000 passengers? Does a Las Vegas Hotel send out Documents for a booking? However, I'm against e-docs when it comes to a deluxe cruise line. When one pays top price one can expect nice looking folder with tickets, tags and information. And I think Carnival certainly does not fall into that overused word"deluxe" cruise line.
Birgitt makes an interesting point on luxury versus regular cruise lines. What's your opinion? Should paper documents be readily available to agents serving clients who are paying top dollar? Should cruise suppliers be placed in the same ballpark as hotels when it comes to marketing documents?
I have no idea. That's why I'm asking YOU.
What’s Going On? Travel Agents and Social Networking
In an exclusive video, Ruthanne Terrero moderated a roundtable discussion among top travel executives, where one of the topics discussed was online social media and how it is affecting the travel industry. The first two comments expressed disapproval of social media, but Kate Koziol, K Squared was quick to respond positively about the new technological phenomenon, saying:
Social media is about sharing information, not giving away every last detail. By getting in the conversation and not being an advertisement, you have a chance to get the sale.
As I've said before, I've been trying to avoid Twitter at all costs and I don't care what shoes Ashton Kutcher is buying or that eating a pork sandwich during the swine flu scare made Beyonce Knowles "LOL." I reluctantly joined Facebook about a year ago due to constant harassment and repetitive "come on, man" from friends to join. I understand that this new media may make it tricky for agents to protect their talents. But for me it will be trickier to adapt along with the evolution of social media. Five years ago, Friendster was all the rage. Then came MySpace. Now, Facebook makes MySpace look like Friendster. Twitter is about to do the same to Facebook, and it's only a matter of time before the next big thing annihilates Twitter.
But speaking of social media and agents, if you haven't joined AgentNation yet, you should sign up today to network with your peers in a safely efficient manner.
Cruise Cleanly In California
As its economy continues to teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, the great state of California (land of my birth) remains committed to a healthy environment, no matter what the cost. New regulation by the state went into effect July 1 that requires ocean-going vessels entering California ports to switch to cleaner fuels when they are 24 miles from California’s coast, and Feronia is not that impressed, stating:
Great idea, California. Lets make it more onerous for companies to do business with us. Nevermind that we'll lose their tax revenue if they go elsewhere. We're just swimmin' in the dough.
During these tough times, businesses and governments will have difficulty in prioritizing matters that may or may not affect their microcosm's economy. While we await this "green industry" to rise up and save us from our financial dilemma, is California pioneering it with such laws or is it simply hindering economic improvement? For all we know, California may be its own island in the Pacific Ocean that rests 24 miles from Nevada and Arizona in time.
Job loss, illness, disaster, and more, there are numerous ways in which your vacation (and perhaps your wallet) can take an unexpected beating. So George Dooley wrote a brief piece on why agents should encourage their clients to buy travel insurance more than ever, and Bill Lyons is in complete concurrence, writing:
At B & B Travel, Inc., we recommend travel insurance to every client. We have read and heard stories that make it a travel necessity.
Thanks, Bill! Make sure you read up some more on this subject with Dooley's latest piece: Travel Insurance: What Your Clients Should Know, fresh off the wires today.