As we go to press with this issue, ASTA’s new TheTradeShow is
raging full-speed ahead in Orlando (see page 8). For those who may
not have heard, TheTradeShow, in its first year, is the successor
to ASTA’s World Travel Congress. It will be held in even years in
Orlando and in odd years in Las Vegas. The new show is just one
part of a major overhaul for the organization.
So far, all indications are that the event is a success.
According to Bill Mahoney, executive vice president of ASTA,
TheTradeShow will welcome over 1,300 exhibitors, 3,000 consumers
and 2,000 travel agents. Scott Ahlsmith, chairman of the Travel
Institute, said that the Institute’s Forum event had sold out for
the first time in his 14 years of experience with the Forum.
Messe Berlin the owner of ITB and ASTA’s partner for
TheTradeShow is expecting the new event will become a North
American trade show on the level of world-class travel shows such
as Berlin’s ITB and the World Travel Mart in London.
Why is this important to agents? Clearly, there are any number
of trade industry organizations that could have partnered with
Messe Berlin the USTOA and NTA to mention two. The fact that the
premier North American trade show will be teamed with a travel
agent organization is a coup for agents everywhere. It is a ringing
endorsement of the agent distribution system and the importance of
travel agents in the industry.
While earlier attempts at establishing a North American
mega-travel show have failed, ASTA should be applauded for creating
a real opportunity for agents to garner some much-needed exposure
on a grand scale.
Maloney said that recent research has shown that in the first
quarter of 2006 room nights booked by agencies grew by 8.5 percent
versus a 3 percent growth online, and the value of the agent
bookings rose by 14 percent compared with a 6 percent increase in
value for online hotel bookings. In other words, business is good.
And with a little luck, agents will have a new showcase to strut
their stuff and garner some of the respect they so wholeheartedly