HONOLULU Although it was nip and tuck right down to the opening
bell of ASTA’s 72nd World Travel Congress, attendance finally broke
the 3,000 level, something organizers had anticipated, but thought
they might not achieve.
Sixty percent of the attendees were travel agents, and 40% of
that number were either first-timers to an ASTA convention or
nonmembers, according to Richard Copland, ASTA president. The push
to attract first-timers and nonmembers was critical, Copland said,
noting that a number of suppliers joined in an effort to pay the
registration costs of some top-producing travel agents who had not
planned to go.
After the events of Sept. 11, attendance at the 2001 convention
dropped markedly from previous years’ levels, such as the 3,200
agents who attended the 2000 event in Las Vegas.
The agenda in Honolulu included quadruple the number of seminars
offered in the past, according to Bill Maloney, the organization’s
executive vice president and COO. Maloney said that many members
wanted ASTA to put on seminars about coping with a new Gulf
“We decided not to dwell on the negatives,” Maloney said.
“Besides, war, at least at present, is not a certainty. Let’s move
If a new war does break out, ASTA will add such things as U.S.
State Department warnings and insurance information to its ASTAnet
Web site, Maloney said.
The seminar grid this year included destination specialist
programs, product news, niche markets, success stories, liability
issues and technology demonstrations. Hawaii tourism groups were
showcased in the specialist programs and were the hosts of
post-congress neighbor island trips for all attendees, the costs of
which were included in registration fees.
In other news:
" In what Copland described as “one of the defining benefits of
ASTA membership,” the association is launching a Model Travel
Agency program in conjunction with Best Western International. Five
program seminars will be held throughout the country during 2003
one at next year’s congress in Miami, three at each of the ASTA
regional conferences and a fifth at a site and date still to be
determined. Bob Stalbaum of Strategies for Success, a travel agent
consultant, designed the program.
The program will teach skills such as the development of
successful business and marketing plans, the assessment of
technology to help determine the most effective use of resources
and the determination of long- and short-term financial goals.
ASTA also will offer the seminars in an interactive online
" ASTA is partnering with Holland America Line to place a series
of print ads in USA Today. The campaign, which will promote the use
of travel agents and lure consumers to sign up to win free cruises,
is part of the association’s Great Cruise Giveaway promotion
launched with Carnival earlier this year.
" Nexion’s vice president of industry sales, Ken Kearney, will
head a new Technology Council for the organization. The council
intends to offer technology-related resources to help members meet
the daily challenges of reducing operating expenses, improving
efficiency and providing value to customers, ASTA said.
The final product, according to ASTA, will be available on
ASTAnet and refreshed on a continuing basis. It also will include a
community forum, links to solution providers’ Web sites, case
studies and white papers. Council members include Salman Hasan, CEO
of Patheo; Jim Menge and Peggy Spoor, vice presidents of Sabre;
Huntley McNabb, vice president of TRX; Les Ottolenghi, CEO of
Agentware; and Lee Rosen, CEO of TRAMS.
" Pleasant Holidays, Tauck World Discovery, Runaway Tours,
Creative Leisure, Funjet and Hawaii World offered bonus commission
certificates to ASTA attendees.
" ASTAnet has created a Selling Center for Allied members,
offering free Web pages to display brand content, images and links.
Amtrak, British Airways, Auto Europe, Thrifty Car Rental, Best
Western International, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity and Royal
Caribbean International already have signed up to participate.