Week in Review: Trade Addresses DOT Proposal, Cruise Lines Hiring

Two travel trade organizations—the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and the Travel Technology Association (Travel Tech)—shared their comments this week regarding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on “Enhancing Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees." For the most part, both groups were in favor of requiring air carriers to disclose ancillary service fees, although both felt the DOT’s omission of the GDS from receiving this information as a shortcoming.

Additionally, ASTA felt “ticket agents” (travel advisors) should not be required to disclose fees for multiple services in each and every ‘offline’ transaction, such as to repeat customers and frequent fliers, who would be more familiar with the fees.

New Cruise Hires

Travel Agent recently spoke with recently hired president for American Queen Voyages (AQV) Cindy D’Aoust about her new role. The former president of Cruise Lines International Association says one of her main focuses is to hire the right people around her—such as her hiring of Angela Composto as vice president of marketing. She also wants to make it easier for travel advisors to know and match clients with the product. A refreshed advisor portal and enhanced training are in the works.

Cindy D’Aoust
Cindy D'Aoust, the new president of American Queen Voyages.  (American Queen Voyages)

Another goal of D’Aoust’s is to work in better collaboration with the destinations that the line visits, “so family businesses can thrive when the boats come to town.” In addition to visiting locally owned businesses in port, D’Aoust wants to ensure that these brands and products will be available onboard, too.

And, speaking to her first point, AQV recently promoted Janelle Valentino to director of national accounts, while Brandon Appel has joined as regional account manager. Appel will represent the Northwest region (including Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming). With the additions, AQV restructured and reassigned its other regional account managers.

As for other lines, Variety Cruises appointed Steven Simao as vice president of sales for North America. A cruise veteran, Simao most recently served as vice president of global sales at Windstar Cruises. Separately, Scenic Group USA named Brandon Oscarson as Southeast USA regional sales director. His territory includes Alabama, the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia. Oscarson has served in a variety of positions for several cruise companies and most recently spent nine years with AmaWaterways.

Destination Updates

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has announced that Barbados will host the 41st edition of Caribbean Travel Marketplace. To be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Bridgetown, the conference will from May 9 to 11, 2023. This year’s event will build on the success of last fall’s edition, which was held in Puerto Rico. A highlight of meeting was the debut of the “Caribbean Travel Forum & Awards,” the second edition of which will be held in Barbados.

Aruba Tourism Authority
Aruba will be debuting several new and renovated hotels in 2023.  (Aruba Tourism Authority)

In Aruba, the tourist board detailed tourism product developments for 2023 and beyond. Already at 98 percent of pre-COVID visitation (as recorded in 2022), the island will see several major hotel openings and renovations, as well as airport enhancements and more. Among the highlights: The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba began 2023 with the debut of new, island-inspired designs for all guestrooms, suites and corridors. As well, the Aruba Airport Authority and Customs and Border Patrol unveiled a remote Global Entry Enrollment Center for U.S. citizens, allowing visitors to enhance their departure experience from Aruba.

Much further abroad, the Singapore Tourism Board, Americas has extended its “SingapoReunions” campaign through March 31, 2023. The extended campaign includes a new partner, The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, and also sees updated specialty packages from existing property partners—which include Far East Hospitality, Pan Pacific Hotel Group, Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa, Fairmont Singapore and Hotel Swissôtel The Stamford.

The campaign addresses a number of current travel trends, such as conscious travel opportunities dining experiences, and an increased connection with self and nature.

Also in Singapore, the Mondrian Singapore Duxton is set to open its doors in March 2023. The 302 rooms and suites take inspiration from traditional Singaporean architecture and are executed with contemporary flair. Guests can expect a food- and fashion-forward experience.

Lastly, in Europe, Travel Agent recently stayed at two Santorini hotels that opened in 2022. Tourism to the destination was booming last year and despite our arrival late in the season, we were surprised with how busy the island still was, as travelers came to the village of Oia to dine at authentic Greek tavernas, shop for local crafts and jewelry, and view the legendary sunsets. Our stops included the Nobu Hotel Santorini and Nous Hotel Santorini.

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