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
"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
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
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
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
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
American Society of Travel Agents
Henry H. Chase, Sr.
Ralph E. Conner, Jr.
H. Stanton Jones