SoCal ASTA Meets a Milestone

ASTA's Southern California chapter has been enhancing the professionalism and profitability of agents for 70 years

On Oct. 11, the Southern California chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) will celebrate 70 years in the travel industry. The event will be held at the Luxe Hotel Sunset Boulevard where attendees are invited to network with their favorite suppliers as well as journey back in time to reminisce over the last 70 years.

"I am so happy to be involved and around for Socal ASTA’s 70th birthday! Not only is it our last gathering we have scheduled for the year, but what a fun event it will be," said Lynda Burruss, president of SoCal ASTA. "There will be something for everyone; a wonderful Tradeshow with over 20 suppliers eagerly awaiting to share the news of their products with everyone; awesome food stations throughout the showroom floor; and last but not least, fellow friends, members and non-members alike will gather to mingle and network and share memories from years past! Long time members will find this evening especially interesting, with a gathering of past presidents and SoCal ASTA memorabilia."

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with the opening of the trade show. Food stations will open after that followed by networking.

TravelAge West asked Lynda Burruss and other past presidents to comment on their experiences with the organization and how ASTA has influenced the industry over the years. Here is what they had to say:
Lynda Burruss, SoCal ASTA President, 2004 to present

"SoCal ASTA has changed over the years to reflect the changes in the industry, most of which are very positive. SoCal is a leader, innovator and a rebel chapter. We started the School at Sea, chaired the most successful Western regional in ASTA’s history and were very successful in putting them on for years. We are one of the largest chapters in North America and are very proud of that. Much of what we have accomplished was with the help of our Allied Members. Without their continued support, we would not be here! I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank all of our allies on behalf of my board and members thank you.

SoCal ASTA has also been the leader in local and state legislative issues. With the forming of the CCTO, we at SoCal ASTA not only wrote the Travel Seller Law in order to rid ourselves of a law that would not have allowed most of us to even be in business today, but we continued to meet one-on-one with the Attorney General’s office and state legislatures. We continually battle for the travel agent on bills that are constantly being written that affect our industry.
When I got involved with SoCal ASTA about eight years ago it was a challenge. My goal was to get involved with an organization that I could help make a difference in. SoCal, was just that. I am one of the Young Professionals and had to work my way up and prove myself to very powerful people in the industry. I like to think I have now earned their respect, as well as the respect of my peers and fellow members. It is a very rewarding experience to be on the board. You learn so much, and grow in ways you couldn’t think are possible. Yes, there are stressful times but when you look back at things you have made a difference with, and know you personally had something to do with it, you can’t describe it. It’s awesome! I encourage all Young Professionals to get involved. Without your words being heard, we don’t go forward. If your career is in travel, it should be your duty to get involved with the chapter and help make a difference. The friendships and relationships you make by being a part of SoCal ASTA are priceless."

Bob Kern, SoCal ASTA President, 2000-2004

"The four years I served as president were very rewarding because it was during a time period with major changes happening in the travel agency industry. During this time, I was proud to chair and serve on many national committees faced with the responsibility of finding ways to battle against the outside forces that were facing the travel agents. The SoCal ASTA Chapter was a leader in finding ways to change ASTA in order to face the upcoming challenges. Recently the members voted overwhelmingly for a new ASTA. This will allow ASTA to have a bright future for which I am very excited and looking forward to being a part of. I hope everyone in our industry will join together to build a better tomorrow."
Ada Brown, SoCal ASTA President, 1990-1992
"When I came in as president of SoCal ASTA in 1990, Jerry Brown at Travel Weekly called me and asked what I planned to do about the Los Angeles Time's advertising policy. I wasn't even aware of their advertising policy as it affected travel agents. Their policy was that if a travel company included in their ad "Call your local travel agent" the rate went from a local rate to a more expensive national rate. Therefore, travel suppliers were only listing their 800 number for bookings. Agents thought they were merely trying to get the consumer to book direct. Some were of course but not all.

New on the job, and more than a bit nervous, I said that I would contact the L.A. Times. Jerry was kind enough to warn me that I should not be too upset if I didn't succeed, as the policy had been in place for years. Well nothing tried, nothing gained, I've always heard. So, I contacted the advertising department, along with high-level management explaining the effect their policy was having on small business in their distribution area, and asking that they reconsider their advertising policy. Would you believe they changed their policy? It was a reminder to me that we should never underestimate the power of communication. It also illustrates the strength of acting on behalf of a large association such as ASTA. There is strength in numbers just as true today as then." 

Susan Tanzman, SoCal ASTA President, 1987-1990

SoCal ASTA deserves a big bash for her 70th birthday. I believe ASTA has served us all well, and has given us the tools to continue in our business and allowed us the opportunity to be heard before the legislature and with the consumer something we could not do alone.

As much as ASTA has been a vehicle for many of our successes, it has been the wonderful friendships we have all made that has enhanced our lives and made our existence happier. We have laughed and cried together, faced many obstacles in our professional and personal lives, but our ASTA friends have always been there to help each of us through our struggles.

Thank you ASTA for the friendships and love you have given us to share with each other. ASTA is about people, world over and close to home it is all of us.

Klaus Billep, SoCal ASTA President, 1985-1987

"I served as president of SoCal ASTA 1985/86 and then as national director. In the 80's, we had many well attended educational meetings, School at Sea Programs and out of country fam trips. Trainingfest was an educational weekend at ASTA headquarters covering some 20 different key areas of education for travel agents. ASTA/PATA were the organizers of the annual Holiday Ball."


American Society of Travel Agents

Southern California Chapter

Chapter Presidents

1936                             Francis Murphy

1937                            Henry Miele

1938                            John Heath 

1939                            Kelly Kelso

1940                            Henry Miele

1946                            Bert Hemphill

1947                            Ernie Sundin

1948                             Sam Revel

1949                             William Roeder

1950                            Dorothy Reed

1951                            William Elliott

1952-53                       Kent Harris

1953-55                       Enrique Ortega

1955-57                       Dick Kerr

1957-59                       John Sousa

1959-60                       Henry H. Chase, Sr.

1960-62                       John Gibson

1962-65                       Florence Edgerly

1965-67                       Bob Burbank

1967-69                       Murray Abrams

1969-71                       Chuck Tilbury

1971-73                        R.W. Hefner

1973-75                       Tyler Tanaka

1975-77                       Richard Mandl

1977-79                       Ralph E. Conner, Jr.

1979-80                       Ron Armstrong

1980-81                       Elaine Kirchner

1981-83                       George Brown

1983-85                       Lynn Enns

1985-87                       Klaus Billep

1987-90                       Susan Tanzman

1990-92                       Ada Brown

1992-95                       H. Stanton Jones

1995-2000                   Susan Dushane

2000-2004                   Bob Kern

2004-Present               Lynda Burruss