ASTA Approves New Governance Plan

*Vegas 101
*Weather Watch

ASTA Approves New Governance Plan

With a vote of 704 to 112, members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) approved a new governance plan, which will provide all domestic members with equal representation and create a smaller Board of Directors.

“By approving the governance plan, ASTA’s membership has taken the next step in advancing ASTA’s efforts to restructure the Society to better meet the needs of our members,” said Kathryn W. Sudeikis, CTC, ASTA’s president and CEO. “ASTA’s Board and now, its membership, have chosen the right course for governance and the Society to take.”

The new governance structure is comprised of nine national directors elected at-large for two-year, staggered terms; three chapter presidents; the chair of the International Chapter Presidents’ Council; and two Corporate Advisory Council members.

Key features of the proposed governance plan include that directors will be elected at-large without being limited to a particular region, and that three chapter presidents will serve on the Board. Also, the membership at large will elect the Board of Directors, and the Executive Committee would then be elected from and by the Board of Directors. The size of the Executive Committee will be reduced, as will the term of service to one year.

Baby on Board

Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas and Johnson & Johnson announced their collaboration in the development of Gentle Travel, a resort-based partnership designed to make trips with babies and young children easier on the nerves. This unprecedented travel routine, created with a board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, is designed to address the needs articulated by parents traveling with babies.

According to a national survey conducted by Atlantis, Johnson’s and, the biggest travel concern for parents of young children is having to bring along all of the products and equipment that they need to care for their baby. So, a Gentle Travel kit will be delivered with each requested crib to the guests’ rooms. The kit includes Dr. Trachtenberg’s baby routine tips, some Johnson’s products, a lullaby CD and a nightlight to help create a calming ambience in the hotel room.

Atlantis has also created a new Prompt Response line to allow parents to order and quickly receive anything they need to care for their babies, including extra crib sheets, baby bathtubs, bottle warmers, as well as sterilizers, strollers and small refrigerators. Parents can also request one of the resort’s more than 100 babysitters, each of whom has been carefully screened through background checks and trained in CPR and childcare.

The Gentle Travel program begins on June 1, the start of what has been predicted to be one of the busiest family travel seasons in recent years.

Weather Watch

Apple Vacations is taking the worry out of weather with its new Weather Guarantee. Under the policy, customers are guaranteed a replacement vacation if a hurricane of Category 1 status or higher interrupts their vacation for 24 hours or more. Apple is including the guarantee with its AV-OK travel insurance, which is offered for purchase at the time of booking for participating hotels in Cancun, Cozumel and the Riviera Maya in Mexico; La Romana and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; and Jamaica for customers flying USA 3,000 Airlines or any other Apple charter flights.

Apple will automatically include the guarantee when customers include the travel insurance when booking a vacation at participating hotels from Aug. 15-Oct. 31.

Tourism Cares Scholarships

Tourism Cares for Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization, recently announced the winners of its 37 academic scholarships for 2006, which range from $500-$10,000. The winning students from universities and colleges all over the country will also be invited to attend the National Tour Association Convention being held in Salt Lake City in November.

During fiscal year 2006, Tourism Cares will distribute student-specific scholarships and grants totaling $58,000.

Vegas 101

Funjet Vacations and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority (LVCVA) have teamed up to co-sponsor one of its biggest travel agent promotions ever, taking 101 travel agents to Las Vegas and offering a chance to win a new luxury car. There will also be other opportunities throughout the year to qualify for prizes, such as a new LCD flat-screen TV, a Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed or a trip to Las Vegas.

The top-booking 101 travel agents of Las Vegas packages nationwide will qualify for the promotion and a chance to win the car.

To enter, agents must make Funjet Vacations Las Vegas air/hotel package bookings, earning points based on the reservation value, and the top-booking agents will be sent to Las Vegas.

Hosting At-Home Agents

America’s Vacation Center recently announced the expansion of their host agency program.

The new “Platinum Agency” program is designed for home-based agents who sell a high volume of cruises and/or vacation packages, while the “Gold Agency” program is designed for agents who sell fewer. With the two programs, AVC aims to offer top-notch hosting for travel agents.

Both the Gold Agency and Platinum Agency include access to AVC’s training and support and the Agent Power software suite, which includes integrated availability and booking access for major cruise lines, commission tracking and more.

Signature ‘Spirit’

During the 2006 TRAMS Technology & Marketing University, held at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Signature Travel Network received the 2006 “Spirit” award. The award was presented by Lee Rosen, CTC, president of TRAMS, in recognition of Signature’s effort in enabling their members to benefit from the latest technology tools.

Signature also announced the completion of a ClientBase “Live Connect” interface with the hotel booking engine, HotelConnection. This new development provides agents with a reservations process that integrates ClientBase customer profiles and “Res Cards” with live online booking.