We All Win With ASTA Show

Kenneth Shapiro 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

By: Kenneth Shapiro

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 deserve. K.S.

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