HONOLULU “This will be the one by which all others ... are
measured,” asserted Tony Vericella.
“This” is ASTA’s 2002 World Travel Congress. And the
organization Vericella heads the Hawaii Visitors and Convention
Bureau stands to benefit greatly from the descent on paradise of
5,000-plus travel agents Nov. 3-8.
Calling agents a group of professionals “who absolutely
influence travel decisions,” the president and CEO of the HVCB said
they’ve been “the lifeblood of Hawaii. They’ve helped catapult
Hawaii to prominence for quite a few decades.”
It’s been two decades 1981 to be precise since ASTA held a World
Travel Congress in Hawaii. The 26,000-member organization plans its
congresses some three years in advance.
Why was Honolulu chosen to be the 2002 gathering place?
“It was based on the fact that they had one of the nicest,
newest convention centers,” said Susan Tanzman, chair of the 2002
conclave and owner of Martin’s Travel and Tours in West Los
Sept. 11 was also a factor. Today, clients “want to stay close
to home,” Tanzman said. “They want to go where they feel safe.
[They] want to reconnect with family. What better place than
ASTA’s 2002 World Travel Congress has three goals: to heighten
agents’ ability to be competitive, open up new sales arenas and
showcase as never before a home-grown destination Hawaii.
ASTA 2002 won’t be a warmed-over version of past World Travel
Tanzman said there are unexplored revenue avenues out there
rendered all the more receptive, ironically, by the slide in
“We’ve left the incentive market to other people,” she said.
What ASTA is finding nowadays is that “a lot of companies don’t
want to spend money for internal meeting planning, internal
Meetings still happen, and salespeople have to be incentivized.
That means new opportunities for agents. A seminar will address the
ABCs of Success
An issue that suffuses travel shops these days is stress. You
either cope with it or crumble. Linda Blakely, Ph.D., will detail
how to do the former in her seminar, Fried ... Frenzied ...
Frazzled. The ABCs of Success and Travel Management.
A good place to start de-stressing is the 2002 World Travel
Congress itself. Attendees can kick back and gain client-winning
insight at the same time.
“Anyone who comes here will become a Hawaii specialist,” Tanzman
said. The first 1,500 enrollees get a complimentary one-day
neighbor island experience.
The Congress, of course, is not free. But Tanzman said it’s not
out of reach either.
“There’s no reason a travel agent will say, ‘I can’t afford to
go to World Congress.’ ”
Suppliers and boosters have anted up more than $2 million in
discounts reductions that will allow the average agent to attend
for about $800 per week.
Aside from air, agents will spend some of their money
rediscovering a remarkably revitalized Waikiki. Over the past few
years, the private and public sectors have plowed some $750 million
into Oahu’s fabled confluence of sand and surf. The beachfront is
better. The parks are better. The promenades are better. Waikiki
begs to be walked.
You can’t walk to the neighbor islands. But via ASTA’s Islands
of Aloha program, agents can fly there courtesy of Aloha and
Hawaiian airlines. The Big Island, the garden island of Kauai, the
friendly island of Molokai, the pineapple island of Lanai and, of
course, the Valley Isle of Maui (a tip: try to stop by the planet’s
only pineapple winery for a cool carafe) are short hops from
Before agents return to the mainland, Vericella and crew hope
they’ll understand why the average stay in the islands is nine to
“That’s quite phenomenal,” Vericella said. “We have bucked the