IN THE HOT SEAT
Vice President, Global Sales, Marriott
Marriott International this year stopped
paying commissions to businesses that
fit its description of a card mill. It recently took a second company, Global
Travel International, off its card mill list
(see story, Page 6). Fred Miller, Marriott
vice president, global sales, discussed this
and related issues with Travel Weekly’s
editor at large, Nadine Godwin.
Q: Is it fair to say that all other suppli-
ers benefit when you achieve a “con-
version,” as in the case of GTI?
umors, denied by American Airlines, surfaced
recently that it is following Continental’s lead in
cutting out net fares for wholesalers. But no one
seems to take the denial as the final word. As one
operator put it, “They” — i.e. the airlines — “are
all considering it.”
Q: Do you envision taking any more
businesses off the card mill list?
A: It’s up to them. We’ve had lip ser-
vice from some, but no action. No
one has been in touch with us lately.
You’d think they would let us know.
Q: Turning to home-based agents
who do business without a host: In
the U.S., you have only recognized
the travel services intermediary (TSI)
program operated by Iatan. More re-
cently, you launched a trial period for
commissioning agents holding the
TRUE and TravelSellers ID numbers.
How is the test working out?
A: Those numbers turned out to be so
small we are not pursuing that avenue
anymore. It doesn’t pay to staff up for
Q: Are you still adding names?
A: I wouldn’t say we’ve got
our list. We are monitoring
what people are saying, and
things come to our attention. But our objective is not
to add to the list. We want
travel agents to be selling
Q: How many of the 3,000-
plus TSI agents (who have
to take Marriott’s Hotel Ex-
cellence program) qualify for
A: Unfortunately, I don’t
know, but it is a pretty good
number. We encourage
home-based agents to get
the TSI number.
RAfter Continental’s move, all
concerned parties are waiting
for the other shoe to drop.
“They are still giving us net fares, but
they are all thinking about it,” said the operator. “The problem is they stab themselves by offering published fares that are
less than bulk.”
But if they drop net fares, another operator asked, rhetorically, “How will they
encourage a seller of travel to support one
particular carrier? You always hold the
hand of the one who gives you the most
business a little tighter.
“As I’ve often said to our partners,
‘It’s not about the money, it’s about the
for Best City: The Americas, as the happy
award-winner returned to his seat, the
comedian said, “If only they had a decent hotel.” When the audience reacted
with nervous titters, she followed up with,
“You know I’m right.” The awards will be
broadcast Oct. 25 on The Travel Channel.
Q: What does researching
suspect operations involve?
A: Normally, we make test calls, ask-
ing what it takes to become an affili-
ated agent. We ask,“What’s in it for
me?” But the calls aren’t all we do.
The fact that Sandra Bernhard doesn’t
do “nice” was reinforced last week at
the Conde Nast Readers Choice Awards
in New York. After presenting a representative from Vancouver with the award
Daniel Garton, executive vice president
of marketing at American Airlines, may
have improved his corporate standing
within the company and his stature as
a CEO candidate when the day comes
that AMR boss Gerard Arpey decides to
step down. TC hears that Garton played
a key role in mending fences with Sabre
and helping to break the vitriol-laden impasse. Garton, TC heard, made the first
call to Sabre in late August to get talks
rolling again on a new Sabre-American
content agreement and then supplanted
American’s David Cush, the airline’s senior vice president of global sales, as the
point man in the talks, which led to an
agreement in early September.
Q: When you announced the no-com-mission policy for card mills, you
called on other suppliers to take their
own steps. I have seen nothing.
A: Nor have I. Some segments don’t
care. Some don’t care that should
They don’t care if they pay commissions to anyone who prints a card, but
commissions are not a birthright. We
feel good that a couple of accounts
— not just because of Marriott but
maybe we brought it to a head — have
changed their models. It is not our job
to figure out how not to do business
Q: What will be your next project?
Now that you have a card mill program on track and a still-firm fence
around your home-based agents, what
is left that feels unacceptably untidy?
A: I want to figure out a better way to
qualify and recognize all professional
agents. Some of the very finest agents
are home-based, but it is difficult to
find and qualify them.
I am puzzled as to why there isn’t
a single national association for these
agents with stringent standards [edu-cation, bonding, licensing, insurance]
that all suppliers would be willing to
accept, and only dedicated, professional agents would honor.
Many serious home-based agents
join good consortia. These are groups
with standards, that will “fire” nonproducers.
So, for example, I have no problem
honoring an ID program from consortia with such standards if there is
a way for them to keep us updated on
their membership and [if] they have
a zero tolerance for violation of their
Friends & Colleagues
Southwest named Bob Jordan executive vice president
of strategy, procurement
Jordan has been with
Southwest for 18 years and
most recently served as senior vice president, enterprise spend management.
Southwest also named
Ron Ricks its executive vice
president of law, airports
and public affairs. Ricks has
been with Southwest for 25
Southwest also promoted
Jan Marshall, recently chief
development officer, to vice
president of technology and
chief information officer;
and Kerry Schwab, recently
director of application architecture, to vice president
and chief technology officer.
Southwest also hired Lori
Rainwater to be vice president of internal audit.
Anthony Stuart, formerly
the deputy director, Florida,
for the Bahamas Ministry of
Q: Are you making any other efforts to
encourage others to act?
A: Are we soliciting? No. For my own
education, I have asked others in a
different segment why they don’t act.
They gave their reasons, and I did not
Tourism, has been named
executive director of the Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board. Stuart will be
joined at the board by
Mar-gie Schneider, who will assume the newly created position of director of strategic
planning and marketing.
Schneider was most recently director of marketing
and interactive for Medical
Staffing Network in Boca
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Edward Steiner was named
senior vice president, Latin
America and the Caribbean for One&Only Resorts
and managing director for
Only&Only Palmilla in
Los Cabos, Mexico. Steiner
joined Kerzner International, parent company, in
American Express Business
Travel tapped Marc Hildebrand to be vice president,
general manager for central
Europe. Hildebrand was
worldwide president and
CEO of TQ3 Travel Solutions.
Also, Winfried Barczaitis
was named vice president,