I love the travel industry. I got into it back in 1997 (you do the math, big numbers scare me) and never looked back. I have said it before; but this is generally a happy business. People do not come to us with problems. While we do solve some problems, our primary task is to facilitate travel dreams. As a whole, I love my colleagues in the industry. There are very few industries in existence where competitors are so willing to freely share their successes. My colleagues are honest, trustworthy and nice. Well, except for this one.
Carmella Bolden. It seems that she was busy selling group cruises to church groups in Maryland and not passing the money along to NCL.
Her agency, R U Ready To Travel, was based in New York and had a dicey record with the BBB and police believe that there may be more victims out there.
According to the Maryland State Police, she collected more than $30,000 in deposits from a single church, and turned nothing over to NCL. And now the members of that church sit and wait—likely to never recover a cent.
Another black eye for the travel industry. And I know that there are bad apples in every industry; but I don’t want to hear it. This is not a case of “sticking it to the man” (which is unacceptable as well); this is taking people’s money outright.
I know Caroline County; and it is not a wealthy county. This cruise was likely a rare and special vacation for these parishioners and I am sure that Carmella Bolden knew it! Yet she took the money anyway.
And, I will never understand how someone imagines that they will not get caught. There are so many checks and balances in the industry. And this one was pretty simple—no payment…no cruise.
When I see cases like this, I resurrect my desire to see some sort of licensing for the industry. Maybe it can be one part product knowledge and one part management. While I dislike the burden of some of the bonding requirements to work through ARC and to sell travel in certain areas; it is cases like this that make me feel it is a good thing. It raises the bar for entry to the industry. Many years ago, for $300, you could be a “travel agent” with YTB; and we see where that all lead.
Maybe it is a pipe dream to have a credentialing program similar to the Realtor program. Maybe not. But until there is, please understand that when a client comes to you, they bring their dreams, their money, and most importantly their trust. Do not betray any of them!