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The Mature Traveler

Taylor-Made Trips, Off-Rack Prices

January 04, 1987|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks.

When travel agent William T. Taylor wants to give his senior travel club members an especially good deal on a cruise, he doesn't hold back.

Taylor charters an entire liner for a cruise--and then sets his own rates.

This will be the second year he's chartered Costa Line's Daphne for a transcanal cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Los Angeles. It leaves April 25 and arrives here May 9.

Besides San Juan, ports of call include Curacao, Cartagena, Panama City, Acapulco and Mazatlan. The fare includes air travel to San Juan from Los Angeles.

While the rates start as low as $1,795 per person for an inside cabin, those have been quickly sold to Taylor's club members, many of whom took a similar cruise last year.

But still available as this was written were outside rooms at $1,895 to $2,395 per person and suites from $2,545 to $3,390 per person (all based on double occupancy).

Sharing and Saving

Taylor makes a serious attempt to match solo travelers who are unable to afford the single rate premium, an additional 75%.

"There is no question in my mind that this is the least expensive 14-day Panama Canal cruise on the 1987 market," said Taylor, who expects a sellout success like his initial effort a year ago.

"We had 430 very happy passengers on that cruise and filled the entire ship. And that was before the Daphne went through a recent $5-million renovation."

In addition to the Panama Canal cruise, he has also chartered the Daphne for a three-day Mother's Day cruise from Los Angeles to Ensenada, Mexico, and return, May 9-11.

Rates range from $225 per person for inside cabins, $250 to $310 per person for outside cabins and $345 to $395 per person for suites.

While Taylor's club members know about this short cruise, this is the first announcement to the general public.

Scotland Via BritRail

"When I opened the agency more than five years ago," said Taylor, who had come from Scotland to Los Angeles to represent BritRail and later worked for Sitmar cruises, "I soon recognized that mature travelers represented a great share of the travel market, especially in cruises and tours. That's when I formed my senior's travel club."

Now the 8,000-plus members, who are at least 50 years old, receive a quarterly newsletter with advance notice of his specials, such as the charter sailings of the Daphne, plus many other discounted rates on cruises and selected tours.

There is no charge to join Taylor's senior club. Each family joining gets a $50 voucher good for an additional discount on club cruises and tours--with the exception of short trips such as the three-day Ensenada jaunt.

All mature travelers are welcome to join, Taylor said, and once they are members, if they prefer to work through their own travel agent, they may.

Room to Negotiate

With his more than four years experience at Sitmar, plus a thorough knowledge of the cruise industry, Taylor has a knack for finding which cruise line sailings are lagging in sales and thus open to negotiations on special rates for his club members.

There is no great secret to this. Travel agencies and wholesalers are increasingly aware of "soft sailings" of the cruise industry, and the cruise lines themselves, through computer magic, soon can tell which sailings need to be discounted to sell out. Some agents and wholesalers can note the trends quicker or are better at negotiating and marketing the final product to the mature market.

In addition to his accent on the cruise industry, Taylor runs a full-service travel agency. His Los Feliz office handles all major air and cruise lines, tour companies and allied travel services.

With his Scottish background and years of service with BritRail, he offers particular expertise in planning and selling tours of Great Britain, again combined with his special offering of mature rates for seniors. British travel from Taylor can be either tours or individual package rates.

For more information, contact Taylor Tours & Cruises, 3171 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles 90039, phone (213) 664-4815 or (800) 233-2904 in the (213) and (818) areas; for the rest of California, (800) 282-4998; from the continental United States, (800) 421-9333.

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