THETRADESHOW Focuses on Social Networking, E-Learning

Agents can virtually attend this year’s show online By: Janeen Christoff

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) attracted nearly 1,200 agents to its Travel Retailing and Destination Expo known as THETRADESHOW in Orlando, Fla., held from Sept. 11-14. Agents attending the show had the opportunity to visit with approximately 300 exhibitors and 600-700 company representatives on the trade show floor, as well as participate in a wide variety of educational seminars that included technology and social networking classes.

Social networking made a big splash at this year’s THETRADESHOW with the debut of TheTravelBloggersShow, held in conjunction with the event. The show, which took place Sept. 11-12, featured panels on how to blog, how to work with marketers and public relations representatives and the dos and don’ts of niche blogging. Participants could also attend Sunday’s THETRADESHOW and were able to go on a backstage tour of Cirque du Soleil’s production of “La Nouba” at the Walt Disney World Resort. Attendees were also invited to an exclusive reception as well as ASTA’s opening-night event.

Another show within the TRADESHOW was the Retail Travel Leadership Summit, which took place on Sept. 12. The three-hour summit featured three panels. This year’s topics included: “SuperSizing: Does Cross Selling Enrich Your Business or Cost You?;" “What’s the Best Model: Employees or Independent Contractors (IC)?;” and “Airline Unbundling’s Impact on the Future of Travel Distribution — Where is it all heading?” The airline panel featured an animated discussion of the issues that agents face when dealing with the airlines and hidden fees, an issue that was getting a considerable amount of play at this year’s show.

ASTA recently launched its “Mad as Hell About Hidden Fees” campaign with the Business Travel Coalition and the Consumer Travel Alliance. The campaign challenged the airline industry to indicate the hidden fees associated with ticket prices and declared Sept. 23 “Mad as Hell Day.” An online petition was set up for consumers who could sign the document, which would be delivered to the Department of Transportation on Sept. 23. At a press conference, ASTA president and chairman Chris Russo commented on the campaign.

“We know that the airlines have to make money, but we want the fees to be transparent,” said Russo.

This year’s THETRADESHOW was also unique in the fact that all of its educational sessions were made available for download at its new E-Learning Center. Agents can find seminars that include a Webinar with audio set to a PowerPoint presentation on topics such as “Building Blocks for Facebook Fan Pages;” “Discover Amazing Thailand;” “Drive Customer Loyalty with Sabre Travel Network;” and “How to Make Limited Marketing Dollars Work Like $1 Million Bucks.” Agents who didn’t attend the show can purchase access to these sessions for $129 and they are available through

Information about ASTA’s International Destination Expo (IDE) which will take place in Puerto Rico from April 14-17, 2011, was also released during the show. The program, which will include the Caribbean, as well as the islands of Puerto Rico, will feature sightseeing, a general session, educational seminars, a gala event and a trade show. Agents will also be able to participate in ship inspections with Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises.

Next year’s THETRADESHOW will take place from Sept. 11-13 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.


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