Kirk Cassels' YEARLY Wrap of User Comments: June 1 - December 23

To refer to this as the yearly wrap may be a tad dubious. The first weekly wrap appeared hear on on June 1, so it's really more of a six-and-three-quarters-months-wrap. But that would make too long of a headline and, thus, URL. I want to tip my hat to those who answered my call last week in getting in their comments while they could before we say goodbye to 2009. So, for starters:

Cool on Cuba

Just because Joe Pike is back from a recent trip to Cuba and has already addressed any readers' comments on his experience doesn't mean he's put the Caribbean island on the shelf for the year. He just wrote a brief report on industry response to a bill that, if passed, would end the travel ban to Cuba, and a reader named symonds is either passively enthusiastic or succinctly sarcastic, saying:

A bill to end the travel ban .. great

The lack of exclamation point and use of punctuation to install a feeling of a pause leads me to believe symonds isn't that excited. I wish he/she would tell us why. After all, we've been talking about this subject here pretty heavily in the past few weeks.

Reminder: Agents Don't Like Rebating

As much as Cuba has been a popular topic, the debate whether cruise rebating has gotten worse or better, or stayed the same, in 2009 has been the more prominent one of late. Yet, unlike the discussion on Cuba, this issue seems to be pretty much agreed upon by the majority of agents and readers. Here's the latest.

Joy Feinstein commented on our original poll on the subject, stating:
The client who looks for rebates is not the client you want. Lookfor any available amenities to enhance their experiences, but maintain a level playing field. That's the honorable thing to do.

Meanwhile, Pat Fulton, CTC, MCC chimed in on our analysis of what some of you readers have already been saying about cruise rebating, posting:
A true professional does not need to pay people to do business with them. We do not rebate.

Thus far, only one reader has posted a comment defending the practice. Which makes him the only one in 2009 (what a rebel!). So this issue is closed, right?

No Bias on Home-Based

Last week, we touched on how home-based travel agents feel about any stigma, or lack thereof, in executing your profession from the confines of their homes versus an office building. The latest to comment on the subject was also the most emphatic. Her name is Sandra Peters and she wrote,

I am very surprised to read this. We just moved our 20 year business home and are very pleased with the new environment and so are our clients. We wouldn't think of meeting with clients off the premises unless the client prefers to do so. We have taken the approach that this is our new space, we are maintaining a comfortable but professional image just like our previous office, nothing has changed except the location.

I don't think there's any shame at all in working from your home. To be fair though, most of my job involves working online and, particularly during this already cold and snowy winter, I'd love to lounge around in my robe and moccasins as I type away on my couch instead of strap up my boots and straighten my tie to brave the cold, slushy and dirty streets of New York City. But then again, I'm not the independent proprietor of my own business, so that decision's not to be made by me.

Another Tip for 2010

As the New Year approaches, Ruthanne Terrero has positive vibes and a good future in mind when recently writing some business strategy tips for agents in 2010. It looks like Marjorie Lambert concurs, writing:

Confidence complimented by some level of creativity to day, will determine how ready you are tomorrow,truthfully,you're right on track.

Confidence really makes a huge difference. I wish I learned that lesson earlier in life, like back in high school when my body language and ways weren't the most impressive in courting the ladies. But I'm over that now, and got married in 2009 to a lovely lady who only boosts my confidence much more for 2010.

Yapping Away on YTB

Oh yeah, the bickering continues on and on. It's been going on for so long that tangents have steered the discussion of the topic away from the Illinois attorney general and YTB and toward proper spelling and grammar and what that says about one's education. After getting addressed by a reader named Jeff about such technicalities, a reader named JJ responded with the following:

Dear Jeff-Did it ever occur to you Tracy & Sue can't type? Of course not. Read Carole's post. Does it make sense to you? Especially the last paragraph? If it does you are in need of some serious intervention.

And in the offices of Travel Agent, I sit back and eat my potato chips as I wonder what direction this argument will take next.

My Favorites of 2009

YTB has been so entertaining this year for me. It's like watching a reality television show fight break out through comments posted online. Here's my favorite YTB moment of the year:

In May, George Dooley reported on the fines YTB had to pay in the state of California and a month later a religious zealot named SE Wolverton shared his/her two cents on the matter, saying:

You need to rewrite this article. Your wrong on many points. We are still in business and doing quiet well. Its a shame we live in a country where people try to smere others names and businesses. You people need help and to get down on your knees and ask God for forgiveness.

I think of this comment every time I listen to Ozzy Osbourne's song "I Don't Want to Change the World," and the lyric that says "Tell me I'm a sinner, I've got news for you. I spoke to God this morning and He don't like you for telling all the people the original sin. He says he knows you better than you'll ever know him."

Bottom line, I think telling anyone that they have to ask for God's forgiveness (no matter what deity) only comes across as an arrogant and confused bloward. But man, what an entertaining comment.

More Entertaining than YTB

Yes, you read correctly. There is a topic here on that I think blows YTB out of the water. It involves a place in Mexico, a beauty queen, and some really irked readers. It all started when we wrote a fluffy piece on Miss Texas USA Brooke Daniels staying in Cancun, Mexico in order to assist in the Miss Spain contest, which has been moved because of the economic strain of production across the pond. This subject has nothing in particular to do with those who sell travel, I guess with the exception of those that want to promote Cancun's popularity. Still, it was one of the more passionatlely discussed topics. Just read the comments for yourself:

Anna Smitz
Is her mama preggers? Too old. Probably wants another Jon Bente Ramsey since this one is old as dirt. I saw the sister all over with her. Trashhhhh I dont mean to be mean but it is trueeeeee

tina trent
How old is this gal? I think he pageant days or over! She must be at least 26 0r 27. I am sick to death of these trashy pageants. Fake teeth, hair, and a hand slung on the hip.  Always a big ole mama behind them. Living their life vicariously through the strutters.  sad sad state of affairs.

lisa laney
I was there also and the sister was knocking the drinks down and she is def not 21. Oh, in Mexico I guess it is OK! Mama don't care. THey were all wearing loads of makeup and you could tell the hair was fake. Sister is desperate.

Lisa Iewis Ishman
I was staying at this beautiful resort when Miss Texas was here and must say that she did not conduct herself as a representative of the Lone Star State. She and her sister always had a drink in their hands and spent hours upon hours posing by them selves in provocative poses as their grandmother/chaperone clicked away. Certainly not like the Miss Universe of the '70's that was my cousin. These girls reminded me of that Paris Hilton. Very sad indeed.

someonewhoknows said:
I don't understand how people can judge from afar???? I wonder what they thought about the stockers who were obviously watching them the whole are just sad girls who dont have lifes!! Btw thier mother is beautiful and far from preggers!

Why am I sharing this? Because I believe that people who resort to name-calling or religious evoking to argue with, and sometimes bash, othere because of something they say are as bratty and childish as what appear to be some fiesty haters of a beauty queen. I'm not defending the beauty queen, don't get me wrong. But honestly why care so much about an individual who will likely have absolutely no impact on your life unless you let them?

Indeed, I get a kick out of the banter between people on any topic but that's mainly because it's cheap entertainment, and I guess I'm cheap, and I figured others would be amused. If you click through some of the archives to the right, you'll see some more sophisticated comments made by readers that are pertinent to an important issue that affects travel professionals. These comments lead to discussions which leads to coverage which leads to education, it's that simple.

So please, in 2010, let's try our best to post comments that engage others in educating ourselves and themselves, or at least brings something substantial or constructive to the dialogue. But who am I kidding? This is the Internet. So write what you want. And don't forget to share it on AgentNation, because I'm not here 24/7 to keep the conversation going.

Happy holidays, and untile next year...

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