Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: May 3-7

What a couple of weeks it's been when it comes to news that relates to and/or directly affects travel. From the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and its potential impact on Florida, to the Arizona law regarding illegal immigration. I can't think of the last time there were so many stories for agents to comment on, especially with an absence of YTB or other constant hot topics. So let's dive right on into them.

Arizona's Law & Affect on Tourism

Last week, I shared a few of the initial comments from agents and others regarding the controversial law's impact, or lack there of, on travel to the Grand Canyon State. So, in the interest of avoiding someone feeling left out, here's a look at some of the more recent statements posted here at Travel Agent.

Commenting on our open forum on the matter, Rick Long appears to believe it is not a travel issue at all, saying:

This is no more a trend than when people cancel for any of a myriad of seemingly trivial reasons. This is an illegal immigrant matter with people on both sides of the issue. Let's not make it a travel and tourism issue unless we see some real evidence to substantiate it.

I am going to respectfully disagree with you, Rick. Although it may not be major and/or braod evidence, we've recevied a few reports from agents saying that either their clients are pulling out of travel to the region or that they would prefer not sending their customers there. Also, when the U.S Travel Association weighs in on the scenario, I think it certainly becomes a travel and tourism issue, but perhaps I'm wrong? I'd like to hear from anyone who disagrees with me. (UPDATE: The U.S Chamber of Commerce weighed in on the issue today as well.)

Meanwhile, when reading the news about the U.S Travel Association's stance on the issue, several other readers shared their two cents.

Lori wrote:
As a daugher of immigrants, it's not fair for illegals to sneak over the boarder while others wait 15 - 20 years to come in legally.

Diane stated:
The majority of the people in Arizona support Bill 1070! And it is about time we start following the laws. I believe that tourism will be supported by others who believe in the law. What part of illegal does this country not understand.

Bradley R. Olinger added:
While I do appreciate the position of the travel industry in this, I also understand that this is a problem that needs a better approach rather than just jailing illegals. I feel the best option is to offer the illegal immigrants that are of otherwise good character a road into citizenship through better regulation. This xenophobic approach to immigration does not work in a nation built on immigrants. After all, most Americans had an immigrant in their own ancestry, so why let what should be a minor political problem cripple both an industry and a society.

Obviously, this issue is not going away anytime soon, and we invite more comments on the matter as it continues to develop.

Fuel Supplements Making A Comeback?

It's been nearly two years since agents needed to address or be concerned with the issue of cruise lines charging surcharges to counteract rising oil prices. But, after an announcement by Cunard that the line is preparing to add a fuel surcharge, it appears agents may need to be concerned again. And some are already expressing their disappointment.

Libbie was the first to comment, writing:
It's like airlines charging for luggage. I would feel much better about these companies I'm representing if they would simply raise their prices to cover all costs and eliminate the games. My message to these large companies is this: Be honest, so we can be honest, and everyone will have much more respect for you!

Harry Jones agrees, posting:
I concur w/Libbi. Make the fare all inclusive. Add ons etc just get folks more upset w/everynoe, lines, oil ocmpanies, travel agents etc etc.

What's your take, agents? Would you prefer an "all-inclusive" price if rates will be raised? What other alternatives would you prefer if this issue is here to stay?

Pay for What You Get

Speaking of cruises, we wrote a brief last year about a new cruise line's cheap jaunts to the Bahamas, and one reader does not appear too happy about the sacrifices you must accept if you are going to pay a low price. Lucy Mae was not too pleased, posting:

just sailed on this ship and all I can say is BE SCARED BE VERY SCARED. They will put you in a broom closet as your room even if you paid for an upgrade. They charge for almost everything. 2.00 for an ice cream cone, 21.00 for soda, 15.00 for a drink. The crew was great, the cruise line was not. I reported to the Florida Attorney General, Coast Guard and the Better Business Bureau. They didnt even go over the life jacket drill with the passengers that got on late. I was one of them. They changed the sailing date of my ship without telling me, they changed my room classification without giving me a refund for the upgrade I paid for. Dont do it, spend the extra money and go on a better cruise line.

I think her last sentence says it best. If you want guaranteed quality and experience, go somewhere that isn't marketing itself as a low price option. Hopefully Lucy's report to the Florida Attorney General, Coast Guard and BBB will illuminate the situation more for agents and their clients.

Take Advantage of Crisis in Bangkok

Political unrest has been infecting Thailand since late 2008. According to all of the reports we've read or written, travelers and tourists have remain unharmed from the political protests, most of which have been peaceful demonstrations. Commenting on a recent report that Bangkok is still safe amidst the protests, one reader encourages other to leverage this opportunity to save money.

John Nathaniel commented:

I think it is safe despite all these disruptions and tourists’ accommodation has become easier with some terrific Bangkok hotel discount that is now available.

Any agents out there seizing the opportunity to pass value on to their clients? If so, let us know and we'll share your experience with our readers.

Let's Hear It for the Flight Attendants!

As much as some airlines are either cutting back on services or increasing fees, you can always count on an airline's flight attendants to do what they can to make your flight more enjoyable. That's why we were happy to share United Airlines' recognition of these sky employees, and one of our readers is just as happy to read the news.

Speaking on the matter, Pat wrote:

Flight attendants have given their lives for the safety of passengers. If airline companies (particularly United) really want to show their appreciation, why not give them a new contract that is up to date and financially acceptable rather than continually asking for concessisons?

Pat, I assume you are a flight attendant, friends with one or related to one. Or, perhaps you've had a pleasant experience on every single flight while admiring their hard work. And I fully agree with you. Hopefully, reflecting on 80 years of their service will encourage United and other carriers to make these hard-working employees happier with their position.

Contest? What Contest?

Last month, I was in the Riviera Maya in Mexico for an event in which Iberostar Hotels & Resorts announced that Antonio "Desperado/Puss in Boots" Banderas is the new global face of the brand. I attended the event as a member of the press trip to the region and had the opportunity to explore the many properties at Iberostar Playa Paraiso (and I highly recommend it to agents and their consumers, be they families, couples etc). But when we filed our very first report on the event, it appears that an agent feels she was left out of a contest that, to the best of my knowledge, never existed.

Gerrie Power Sears stated:

I can not imagine why the United States was left out of the contest to win a vacation at the Iberostar resorts in Mexico or Punta Cana ect. I would have liked to send this offer to my many clients that I have sent to these properties.

Thank you for your reply,
[email protected]
Gerrie Sears: Leisure Manager
Wood's Travel

Gerrie, I'm sorry if there was anything written that implied there was a contest to win (I'm pretty sure there was no such mention). Had there been a contest, we would have definitely reported it. In addition, if it was solely for Mexican entities, I would have been up in arms as well. Sorry for any confusion that was caused. I still highly suggest agents look into the property. It was an outstanding, albeit exhausting, experience.

As always, the conversation doesn't end with the week, so please keep the comments coming. Post your opinion below or at any of the stories linked to above (and check out our content throughout the deep recesses of the site to learn more). You can always share your opinions with us at our Facebook page, at our Twitter page, and at AgentNation. We want to hear from you, and we want to share your feedback with our readers.

Until next week...

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