Saturday, May 12, 2007

Major cash crunch for RSVP's owner

The San Francisco-based owner of the Advocate and Out magazines plus RSVP Vacations and the website has disclosed it will run out of money before year's end without a $15 million cash infusion. PlanetOut CEO Karen Magee, among the company's often-changing cast of top executives, laid part of the blame for the company's poor performance on its RSVP travel agency.

RSVP faces tough competition from Atlantis in West Hollywood. I've heard Atlantis cruises draw younger crowds. I don't know whether that's true, since Sparky and I have only taken one cruise together, on RSVP. But I'll say this: I found hotter photos on Atlantis' site today. (That's one, above, for example, promoting an Athens-to-Venice trip in September.)

First thing I noticed when it went to RSVP's website today: It's offering as much as 50% off on tickets to one of its most heavily promoted cruises: the Queen Mary 2 crossing to Southampton from New York. It's scheduled for 2,600 passengers and is to sail May 29 for six days.

Magee's warning came as PlanetOut shares plunged to an all-time low Thursday after the company said its first-quarter loss widened on lower sales and higher costs. The company's problems mirror those of all gay businesses as more mainstream companies sell to the gay market and as gay people face fewer social restrictions overall.

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