Southwest to add
Costa Rica route
Southwest filed plans at the Transportation Department for launching a new
international route next year, linking
Baltimore/Washington Airport with
San Jose, Costa Rica. The carrier plans
daily service beginning March 7 with
143-passenger 737-700 aircraft. The
move marks one of the carrier’s first
international forays outside of its integration with Air Tran.
Baggage fees spread
among Canadian lines
Checked-baggage fees are spreading
in Canada. Following moves by Porter
Airlines earlier this year, WestJet and Air
Canada adopted a $25 first-bag fee on
their lowest economy fares in Canadian
domestic markets, and WestJet is adding the fee to its U.S. routes on Oct. 29.
Air Canada is also adding the fee to
routes to the Caribbean and Mexico;
fees on its routes to and from the U.S.
Sandals to rebrand
Carlyle Inn resort
Sandals Resorts International will expand its Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts portfolio with the rebranding
of the 52-room Sandals Carlyle Inn to
Grand Pineapple Montego Bay on Jan.
15. It will be the second all-inclusive
Grand Pineapple Beach Resort in Jamaica, joining its sister property in
Negril. A third Grand Pineapple is in
D.C. convention center
draws Cambria brand
Choice Hotels opened the first hotel
under its Cambria Suites brand in the
nation’s capital, a 182-room hotel one
block from the Walter E. Washington
Convention Center. Managed by Concord Hospitalilty, the hotel offers free
WiFi and a restaurant and bar featuring
local craft beers.
Carnival to continue
Carnival Cruise Lines renewed its Great
Vacation Guarantee for 2015. The offer enables consumers to cancel their
cruise within the first 24 hours for a
110% refund, free transport home and a
$100 shipboard credit on a future cruise
if they are dissatisfied for any reason.
The offer is valid for U.S. and Canadian
residents on all three- to eight-day Caribbean and North American cruises.
Marriott teams with
women’s group on tips
Marriott is placing envelopes in some
160,000 U.S. and Canadian hotel
rooms to encourage guests to leave
gratuities for housekeeping staff. The
initiative is part of a campaign by the
nonprofit group A Woman’s Nation,
headed by former California First Lady
Marriott, citing the American Hotel
and Lodging Association, suggests
housekeeping tips of $1 to $5 a night.
Kempinski opens on
China’s Yanqi Lake
Kempinski opened the Yanqi Lake Kempinski Hotel about 40 miles north of
Beijing, part of a 595-room hotel complex that includes a 151,000-square-
foot conference center designed to
accommodate high-level government
and international meetings.
The centerpiece of the site is a
21-story, glass-enclosed building that
is round when seen from the front and
shaped like a scallop when seen from
on Westin Sarasota
Starwood broke ground on its first
Westin in Sarasota, Fla., a 255-room
property opening in 2016 in a development overlooking Sarasota Bay. The
project will include a residential condominium tower.
The Sandals Carlyle Inn will be rebranded Jan. 15.
The Corporate Advisory Council has
been “tremendous,” Kerby said. “
Whenever ASTA has a legislative initiative, whenever we went to battle in states or had to
hire people to augment the ASTA staff to
get things done in states with travel insurance and other initiatives, [the council] has
stepped forward and funded those efforts.”
In addition, ASTA has sold the floor that
housed its offices in Alexandria, Va., and
will be moving to office space nearby. “That
frees up financial resources that had been
locked into the building,” Kerby said.
ASTA has a far more varied membership
today than it did 20 years ago, Lovell said.
“ASTA had to recognize that our membership is very diverse,” he said. Members
range from home-based agents to massive
online travel agencies, and all are active in
For example, Kerby
said that a large portion of a Corporate
meeting was Expedia
doing a presentation
on what direction to
go with ASTA’s legislative efforts.
He outlined ASTA’s
One global priority is to work to make
the U.S. a more competitive destination.
To that end, ASTA is
supporting legislation to reduce visa
wait times and supporting Brand USA.
Paul Ruden, ASTA senior vice president
of legal and industry affairs, said he was
completing filing comments about the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) third
enhanced consumer protection rulemaking, for which comments were due Sept. 22.
A key issue for ASTA is making sure that
consumers can easily access and compari-son-shop ancillary fees when booking airline tickets so they know the full cost of the
ticket. That includes having that information in the GDSs. A separate component of
that same rulemaking proposes customer
service performance standards for travel
agents, which would include setting specific time frames for agents to make refunds.
Right now, rules call for prompt refunds, but
the proposed rule would set a 30-day deadline for agents to acknowledge the complaint
and 60 days to answer substantively.
“That is an example of unnecessary intrusion into business, and there is no justification for it,” Ruden said.
Kerby said another example of how
ASTA is helping agencies navigate the legislative landscape is a new tool it has created
to help them avoid fines for violating DOT
codeshare disclosure requirements.
ASTA will release its latest codeshare disclosure guidelines in December, and it will
be adding a new element: a test for agents
to take to ensure that they do know the
ASTA meetings with consortia
prompted membership moves
By Kate Rice
ABOARD THE NORWEGIAN BREAKAWAY — An unprecedented meeting of
consortia heads and ASTA executives last
winter laid the groundwork for recent
announcements by two co-ops that they
were mandating or subsidizing ASTA
“That was the first time in ASTA history
that had happened,” Zane Kerby, the Society’s president and CEO, said at a press
conference during ASTA’s Global Convention, held here last week.
Kerby said that John Lovell, ASTA’s outgoing chairman and president of Breton
Village Travel Services in Grand Rapids,
Mich., and Roger Block, president of the
Travel Leaders Franchise Group and ASTA’s
incoming chairman, gathered consortia
heads at ASTA’s headquarters in February.
and ASTA had not
had a formal dia-
logue in the past,”
Lovell said. “We real-
ly had not gotten out
and talked to each
other about how we
can help them and
Lovell said he
and Kerby later met
with various agency
chapters and the
Corporate Advisory Council, “reselling the
value and defining the value of ASTA.”
As a result of those meetings, Signature
Travel Network has mandated ASTA mem-
bership for its members, and the MAST
Travel Network, representing agencies in
the Midwest, is subsidizing dues for its
Kerby said similar announcements
would be coming. He said that because
agency organizations have different models, similar efforts by other agency marketing groups to drive membership could take
longer. ASTA is essentially leveraging the
fact that almost all agents now are a part
of a consortium, co-op, franchise or host
agency to use them to encourage agents to
attend ASTA events, join ASTA and promote the organization.
Besides these membership-building efforts, ASTA has seen the benefit of other
financial changes in recent months.
The Society revamped its fee structure
for Premium members in November, tiering those fees according to sales volume.
Kerby praised American Express, Carlson
Wagonlit Travel, Expedia and Priceline,
the agencies most affected by the new fee
structure, for their response to it.
“We are very appreciative that they see
the value of the advocacy work that we do,”
He said ASTA is also getting financial
support in other ways.
The Yanqi Lake Kempinski Hotel.
ASTA Global Convention attendees during a “Taste of