Up Front With Martin B. Deutsch for 1995

martin December 18: You Gotta Be There
Travel Agent magazine is going into the trade show business next year. The buzzword for these new shows is education; the relevant phrase is sales savvy; the message is enhanced profitability. Each trade show is designed to give travel agent delegates the ammunition and confidence to boost their tour package sales.

November 27: 'I Slept With Marilyn ... and Survived'
When Dave Edgell accepted the job of tourism commissioner for the U.S. Virgin Islands, there was nothing in the contract about tropical storms or related phenomena. A former resident of the Kansas City area, Edgell was familiar with tornadoes, but he admits that he "lacked the proper respect for hurricanes." Then he came face-to-face with Hurricane Marilyn.

October 23: Amelia Island: Charming and Overlooked
We spent a six-day weekend over Labor Day at Amelia Island. Just 30 minutes north of Jacksonville, Florida, it's almost identical in size to Manhattan. But its population is only 10,000. There's something to be said for space -- and its ingratiating, low-key charms. We weren't disappointed.

October 5: Alaska Airlines Flies to a Different Tune
Alaska Airlines, a regional carrier on the rebound after "reinventing itself" in recent years, chose last February not to impose the domestic air commission cap. And it remains a truly regional operation.

August 14: Revivial at Continental Airlines
Lou Ramery, vice president of business units for Continental Airlines, is one of a group of Continental executives dedicated to putting the carrier into the black this year. How will he do it? "Give the travel agents confidence in what we deliver." and "Put the quality back in the product."

July 10: Memos From Hawaii
Hawaii remains one of the great travel destinations. Its tourism sector has had some tough times this decade, but that hasn't diminished the luster of the product, which is just plain wonderful. I know. I spent 10 days there talking to suppliers. Here are capsule versions of their comments, impressions and assessments, as well a few of my own.

June 26: A Man Leaves His Card
The secretary came into my office to tell me that I had an unannounced visitor. His business card read: Toon H. Woltman, Senior Vice President Area Manager, North America and Mexico for KLM. I was busy but also curious. No one of his stature had ever just dropped by.

May 22: At Home in Westwood
The Westwood Marquis Hotel and garden fits so seamlessly into its quiet and lovely residential surroundings that it's not easy to identify it as a hotel. The hotel rode an early crest of popularity in the 1970s, followed by a cooling-off period and a recent renaissance. This resurgence can be attributed chiefly to owner George Rosenthal and general manager John Strozdas and an $8.5 million top-to-bottom renovation.

April 24: Cruising With Crystal
Overnight, Art Sbarsky's workload doubled from selling one ship with 960 berths to two vessels with 1,920 berths. But the senior vice president of marketing for Crystal Cruise Lines in Los Angeles is smiling like Ponce de Leon when he discovered the Fountain of Youth at the added responsibility of pairing the brand-new Crystal Symphony with the highly regarded Crystal Harmony.

March 27: Travels With The Coach
Now here's a perfect potential client for an alert travel agent: Dan Reeves, a soft-spoken southern gentleman who currently makes his living as head coach of the New York Giants. What makes Reeves such a natural target for travel counselors? Virtually all his travel is business-related.

February 27: Butch Goes Airborne
My imagination was jolted recently at a New York luncheon to celebrate the privatization of Air Jamaica and the assumption of majority control by Gordon "Butch" Stewart, the hard-driving and feisty owner of the Caribbean's Sandals resorts and Air Jamaica's new chairman. If I were BA, I'd keep a close watch on my flank; there's competition looming on the horizon, however unlikely or insignificant at this point in time.

February 23: A New Allegiance
This column marks my debut at Travel Agent magazine, a leading rival, if not the enemy, during my nearly 40 years in travel publishing. The path to this new allegiance, this new soapbox, is twisted and, in recent years, turbulent. But I'm glad to be aboard. Despite the new address and the as-yet unfamiliar surroundings, I have a feeling I'll adjust.

February 1: Inside the Shifty Business of Buying and Selling Mileage Awards
Remember coupon brokers? They blossomed during the early 1980s. They bought frequent flyer mileage coupons and sold them to flyers looking to save a buck -- which explains why brokers were generally esteemed by travelers and scorned by carriers. The airlines launched several strident court encounters that supposedly ended the coupon brokerage business. But coupon brokers are alive and well, if not thriving. And, once again, the airlines are girding for another round of combat.

January 1: Renaissance Man
James Choi, an erudite Chinese executive, was drawn into the hotel business but not by design. Choi joined Hong Kong-based New World Development in 1988, when the company was only dabbling in hotels. Six years later, he oversees the largest hotel chain headquartered in the Asia/Pacific region as worldwide president and vice chairman of Renaissance Hotels International (RHI), a vast division of New World.

Copyright © 1992-2006 by Martin B. Deutsch. All rights reserved.