DON'T BE FOOLED. ARE YOUR SERVICE PROVIDERS REALLY COMPETITORS IN DISGUISE - PURSUING YOUR CLIENTS
A July Travel Pulse article headlined this warning for travel professionals, "Don't be Fooled," cautioning against competitors disguised as "partners" or service providers. A recent online discussion spoke to the same issue, alerting agents to a well-known firm that on the surface provides services for travel agencies, but covertly solicits the agency's clients directly - to sell travel.
If this has happened to you, we'd like to hear about your experience. If you're not sure it has happened - or may be happening - here are a few red flags to help you determine if your service provider or vendor is a dedicated provider or a travel agency with a sideline, pursuing the same clients you are.
1. Do the provider's brochures list their contact information and phone number prominently with small or no space at all for "Call Your Travel Agent"? You expect your service providers to distribute brochures. However, if they showcase only the service providers contact information without a prompt for contacting a travel agent, you may be unknowingly promoting a competitive travel seller. One travel agent reported that a service provider's brochure listed the provider's number four times in large type (22 point font size) while listing "or call your travel agent" once - on the back, in small type (6 point font). And the brochure was designed to sell cruise vacations. As professionals within the travel industry, we all expect the competition to be forthright and honest, not hiding behind a disguise. Read More.
CRUISE LINE SPOTLIGHT: COSTA CRUISES
Costa Cruises welcomes guests to experience "Cruising Italian Style." The spirit of Italy and the Italian way are the "amore" of a Costa Cruise. Once onboard, celebrate during the Festa Italiana, an Italian street festival at sea, or enjoy a cup of cappuccino pool side. Whatever one chooses to do onboard, Costa provides optimum service levels in order to enhance guests' experiences and ensures enjoyment of voyages. This is especially important for any passengers with disabilities or impairments.
All of Costa's ships - except the Costa Marina - have accessible cabins. The Costa Concordia, Costa Serena and Costa Pacifica have the most accessible cabins with 29, followed by the Costa Fortuna and Costa Magica with 27. All Costa ships have accessible cabins available across different categories, with the exception of the Costa Allegra and Costa Romantica, both of which have Inside Singles only. The staterooms have accessible closet rods and lowered shelves. The bathrooms have a roll-in shower, grab bars, a lowered sink and a handheld showerhead; Costa will provide a fold down shower stool and/or toilet riser upon request. Read More.
CITY OF HIGHLIGHT: BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
Since the redevelopment of the Inner Harbor in the late 1970s, Baltimore has established itself as an American success story and a major travel destination. Today, more than 11 million travelers each year visit Baltimore for its world-famous seafood, sporting events, historical attractions, museums and other attractions.
At Baltimore's Inner Harbor, tourists and locals come to explore the restaurants, shops, attractions and museums that make up this seaport tourist attraction. One of the more popular destinations at the Inner Harbor is the National Aquarium. From fish and amphibians to birds and reptiles, the Aquarium boasts more than 16,500 animals. The Aquarium is fully wheelchair accessible. It also provides Reserved Accessible Seating to its shows, a companion Accessibility Guide and Map that shows a wheelchair route, an Express Entry and on the first Saturdays and Sundays of the month, visitors with special needs and their guests may enter 30 minutes prior to the Aquarium opening to avoid the crowds. For guests who are deaf or hard of hearing, the Aquarium provides Assistive Listening Devices, Presentation Scripts and two Deaf Awareness Days where sign language interpreters are onsite interpreting presentations, shows and animal encounters. For guests who are Blind or Visually Impaired, the Aquarium provides an Audio Wireless Tour, Braille Tour and a Touch Bag of Tactile items representing animals in the exhibits. Other interesting attractions at the Inner Harbor are the Maryland Science Center and the American Visionary Art Museum, both of which are wheelchair accessible. Read More.
Interesting Fact: Baltimore is home to the first umbrella factory in America, established in 1828.
Cruise Lines out of the Port of Baltimore: American Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean
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Quote of the Month:
The TRADE Show
Date: September 12-14, 2010
Location: Orange County Convention Center - Orlando, FL
Visit the Special Needs Group booth to get your free Eco-friendly reusable tote bag and pen, to check out our equipment, enter a raffle and to say hello!
More information: www.thetradeshow.org
SPECIAL NEEDS GROUP NOW SERVICING NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
Special Needs Group was named a preferred mobility and oxygen supplier for Norwegian Cruise Line. The status is effective immediately and includes all of NCL's ships, including the EPIC. Special Needs Group now works with, and is recommended by, all the major cruise lines.
SPECIAL NEEDS GROUP CLIENT BROCHURES
If you need brochures to distribute to your clients, please email your quantity requests to: ChereeL@specialneedsgroup.com.
Travel Agents Earn Commission on Every Rental.
Toll Free: 1-800-513-4515 | International: 954-585-0575
2860 West State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
About Special Needs at Sea and Special Needs Group...
Special Needs Group, Inc. is a one-stop resource for special needs travel around the world. We offer a broad range of special needs equipment for purchase and rental including wheelchairs, scooters, power chairs with capabilities to support 500 pound or more; oxygen (liquid, cylinder, and concentrator); hearing impaired equipment, Braille printing, baby cribs and more. Recommended by the world's major cruise lines and hotels for superior service and value, we also provide consultation services regarding special needs policy and new-build design. Special Needs Group, a U.S. company, is not a travel agency; we do not compete in any way with travel agents.