If you flip through trade publications for
broadcasters, hardware dealers or any other
line of business, you will encounter lists of all
kinds, endless variations on the Fortune 500.
Entertainment industry publications are full of such
lists, beginning with the proverbial Top 40. In other fields
there will be lists of the biggest, the newest, the fastest,
the most profitable. Making lists seems to be in the DNA
of the business press. We’d like to think we’re performing
a service, but maybe it’s an obsession. In any event, we’re
at it again: Included with this issue is our annual Power
List, ranking the nation’s top travel sellers by size.
This year’s list includes more than 60 companies with
annual retail travel sales of $100 million or more, including a baker’s dozen that topped the $1 billion mark.
And we now appear to have a genuine Big Three. For
the second consecutive year, three firms, and only three,
reported retail travel sales of $20 billion or more.
In some lines of business (airlines, autos and broadcasting come to mind), you can get an informative snapshot of an industry by looking at its Big Three.
What about travel retailing?
The biggest of our Big Three is a gray-flannel American icon, a member of the Fortune 500, one of the 30
stocks that make up the fabled Dow Jones average, a
financial services gi-
ant for which travel
is a strategic side-
The second began life as an entrepreneurial family
company in the Midwest and remains closely held yet
global in scope, and is one of the few travel companies
to successfully manage hospitality operations as well as
retail travel networks.
The third is a child of the Internet age, still in its teens,
a company that began as a “virtual travel agency” on the
cutting edge of the World Wide Web and now encom-passes multiple brands, both physical and digital, around
Could they be more different?
Delta, American and United have been accused of being peas in a pod. So have ABC, CBS and NBC. We have
also heard it said about GM, Ford and Chrysler. We have
not heard it said about American Express, Carlson and
The theme of the Power List may be bigness, but the
backstory of travel’s Big Three is the story of a dynamic
and diversified distribution channel. Judging by its Big
Three, its Top 60 or any other metric, we’d say the channel is weathering this storm.
Age discrimination column showed
total disregard for elderly’s plight
Ified as a cost-cutting decision” [Legal Briefs, March
16] with outrage, and I could almost hear the blood
read Mark Pestronk’s “Firing older staff can be justi-
boiling among older workers across the country.
Lawyer Pestronk’s tone was practically gleeful: “The
ADEA [federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act]
applies only to employers with 20 or more employees.
So, if you have fewer, you can discriminate against older
workers as much as you want …”
Would this rather geriatric-looking fellow be allowed
to make such a statement in your publication if the topic
had been not older workers but blacks, Hispanics, gays,
the disabled or some other “protected class”?
The wages of sin?
Would Mark Pestronk be allowed to
make such a statement if the topic had
been blacks, gays or the disabled?
British Airways earned some extra airtime last week by
suggesting, as some headlines had put it, that employees
work for free for a while to help the carrier over a rough
A flood of entertaining quips and comments ensued,
including one from ASTA CEO Bill Maloney, who tweeted his followers that BA staff henceforth “might have
more sympathy for travel agents.”
We wouldn’t dare suggest to British Airways how it
should manage its business, but we can’t help observing
that the record-breaking loss for its last fiscal year, some
350 million pounds, is just shy of the amount of money
it set aside during the previous fiscal year(375 million
pounds, in 2007) to pay various civil and criminal penalties for its alleged role in global price-fixing conspiracies.
How’s that for a coincidence?
Double-charging for hotel rooms
booked through Expedia is wrong
Wthrough an online booking service if the hotel
places a debit card hold for the same amount at
hat good does it do to pay for hotel reservations
the time of check-in, effectively doubling the cost of the
That’s the question that keeps running through my
mind after using Expedia.com to book two nights at the
Comfort Inn in Oxnard, Calif., using my debit card.
Expedia debited my checking account for $198.88 as
soon as I made the reservation on the morning of Friday, June 12, which is what I expected them to do.
But then Comfort Inn debited the card again when I
checked in that night, this time for $158.38, which I later
learned was the discount rate that Comfort Inn charged
Expedia for my two-night stay.
I was angered by this because I had already paid
for my room and felt I shouldn’t have to pay for it yet
The front desk clerk at Comfort Inn assured me that
they would not debit my card after I told them I had already paid for my room through Expedia. But they went
ahead and debited my card anyway.
I was further annoyed when I called Expedia on June
15 to complain and was told that Comfort Inn had put
a hold on my account for $158.38, which would remain
on my account for another five days, or a full week after
I initially paid for my room through Expedia.
I’ve booked many travel reservations online before.
But I certainly won’t use Expedia.com or Comfort Inn
I simply refuse to pay for the same hotel room twice,
even if half of my funds are eventually returned. That’s
not the way I do business.
Palm Desert, Calif.
The choice of words was unfortunate, to say the least.
He should read the columns and letters in publications
like AARP’s and the many reports discussing the plight
of older workers who have been let go, to understand
the anguish, lack of self-worth and outright fear for
their future that they are experiencing.
I worked in New Jersey until recently, when I was unceremoniously dismissed, along with numerous other
workers over age 55, presumably for cost-cutting reasons.
New Jersey’s laws recognize age discrimination when
older workers are replaced with younger ones, but it’s
difficult to prove and almost beyond the financial means
of anyone without a lawyer in the family.