When Japan was hit by a severe earthquake and then a devastating tsunami in March, travel arranger Tauck had nearly 1,000 customers booked for dozens of tours of Japan through the end of the year. Normally that would mean paying Japanese vendors roughly 500 million yen ($5.97 million). Normal was suddenly out of the question, and Tauck was forced to cancel its departures through May and refund customers' deposits and prepaid fees.

Then John Cappelli, Tauck's director of revenue management, had to deal with the yen forward contracts he had bought to hedge the company's yen exposure.

Just a month earlier, the Norwalk, Conn., company's spring and summer seasons of Egyptian tours had gone down the drain as a result of the unrest there.

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