July 28, 2015

ASTA and CLIA to take stage together at Travel Industry Exchange

Questex Travel Group today announced the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) would take the stage together for the first time in recent memory to kick off the general session of its Travel Industry Exchange event Sept. 15-17 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Leaders of ASTA and CLIA will join the CEO of Avenue Two Travel to share their vision for the future of the travel agent community, the importance of professional development and the unique needs of millennial agents and travelers.

Ruthanne Terrero, Questex Travel Group vice president of content and editorial director, will moderate the panel, Raise the Bar Now: Step Up Your Business for the Next Wave of Travelers, which will feature Zane Kerby, president & CEO, ASTA; Thomas Ostebo, president & CEO of CLIA; and Joshua Bush, CEO of Avenue Two Travel.
As the top executive of ASTA, the national trade association solely responsible for promoting and defending the travel agent profession, Kerby is the organization’s chief steward and primary spokesman. ASTA’s members are responsible for 80 percent of all travel sold in the U.S. through agencies. He joined ASTA in February 2013 after a 14-year career with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

Ostebo leads CLIA in its mission as the unified global cruise industry organization that helps its members succeed by advocating, educating and promoting for the common interests of the cruise community. His focus includes maximizing the full potential of the 15 CLIA offices around the world. Ostebo is also committed to enhancing relationships and creating greater engagement and value with all CLIA partners, including cruise lines, travel agency, individual travel agent and executive partners.

Ostebo formerly was a rear admiral with the U.S. Coast Guard, which he served as director of strategic management, supporting strategy and budget policy. Among his many assignments, Ostebo also served was commander of the Coast Guard’s 17th District, where he led operations in Alaska, the Arctic and North Pacific. In his other senior assignments, he served as chief of engineering & logistics and executive assistant to the commandant.
Bush’s Avenue Two Travel, a high-end luxury leisure travel agency, specializes in customized experiences. Bush, who grew up in his family’s travel business, also brings almost a decade of experience in consumer finance and commercial real estate. He has served on Virtuoso’s On-Site Committee, Tour Committee and Technology Committee, which he chaired. He also has served on and consulted for numerous advisory boards and panels including Luxury Travel Advisor Magazine, Fairmont Hotels, Park Hyatt, Viceroy, Classic Vacations and Ritz-Carlton Hotels.

Travel Industry Exchange emphasizes niche travel and specialization, with more than 60 sessions focused on revenue-generating niche segments, including certification programs in luxury travel, cruise ship travel and weddings and romance as well as concentrated programs in technology, trends, destinations and millennial travel.

“We are honored to bring together, for the first time, such a distinguished group of thought leaders to kick off Travel Industry Exchange,” said Marilyn McHugh, Questex Travel Group vice president of global events. “Our experts will share their insights about the future of travel and discuss how attendees can leverage new market dynamics and strategies to take their business to the next level.”

Travel Industry Exchange will bring travel professionals and lifestyle specialists together with international suppliers, including destinations, hoteliers, cruise lines, tour operators, transportation providers, technology companies, spas and resorts. The event will include over eight hours of one-to-one meetings, comprehensive education including agent specialty training and networking events and receptions.

Presented by Africa Travel Association (ATA).

Africa may be vast but this presentation by the Africa Travel Academy will put the diverse and beautiful continent into today’s tourism sales context: What to sell, how to sell and how to book what sells. This one-hour academy led by two recognized “Africa hands” will give you – front-line travel advisors – know-how for getting Africa into your sales portfolio. This one-of-a-kind destination differs from all others, most notably because of the high commissions and revenues it generates. Even those who are knowledgeable and sell Africa will benefit from attending!


Ron Mracky  Managing Director , Africa Consult Group  Sylvia Frommer-Mracky Owner, Production Travel & Tours


By Peggy Hageman

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is well known for their hard work on behalf of travel agents plus their ability to host a conference that is both entertaining and educational. But they’ve outdone themselves with this year’s Destination Expo in Marrakech, Morocco. Over 400 agents made the journey to experience Morocco at #ASDE2015 and through the pre- and post-tours that were made available to them. Over 100 trade suppliers were on hand to show them just what the region has to offer.

Tourism accounts for 8 percent of Morocco’s GDP and that number is growing. Morocco receives over 10 million visitors per year, most of whom are from western Europe. Morocco is the closest “exotic” destination to the US yet North American tourists make up only a small fraction of its total visitors, about 220,000 in 2014. Granted, that’s a big increase from ten years ago when that number was only around 80,000 but there is still a huge opportunity for growing the US market. How to do that? Conferences such as this are one way, but other factors can help too, the most important of which could be expanded air capacity.

The night before the official opening, the conference kicked off with a special treat sponsored by the Moroccan Tourist Board: Fantasia at Chez Ali. It’s dinner with a taste of Moroccan cultural heritage, replete with musicians, acrobats, and a show of horse and camel riding. Well into the night, attendees were treated to indigenous songs and dances and a seemingly endless array of delicacies.

The esteemed CEO and Director of the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism, Abderrafia Zouitene, spoke next and offered his country’s legendary hospitality to the assembled group. He promised an increased presence of Moroccan tourism within the US, specifically an increase in air transport (hopefully a direct NYC to Marrakech flight) as well as the opening of two new tourist board offices most likely in Florida and California. The conference proper kicked off Friday morning with an opening address by Zane Kerby, President and CEO of ASTA. Building off the famous Mark Twain quote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” he emphasized the importance of breaking down barriers and building personal connections and trust as way to create a better way to market destinations to new markets. ASTA Chairman Roger Block added just how important trips like this are, perhaps even more so than FAM trips since one can spend much more time learning about the destination firsthand. ASTA itself is stronger than ever both in membership and financially, due to the dedication of members who make the effort to come to events such as this.

The Chairman of Royal Air Maroc, Driss Benhima, closed the session with the announcement of a code share agreement with Jet Blue, subject to regulatory approval. The agreement was signed by both airlines at a small ceremony Friday evening before the Black and White reception, sponsored by Royal Air Maroc at the luxurious Hotel Selman Marrakech. The other reason for celebration was the recent launch of Royal Air Maroc’s first 787 Boeing Dreamliner with service from New York’s JFK airport to Casablanca. An additional four 787s are scheduled to be added to RAM’s fleet by 2017.The art of making mint tea. Photo credit: Peggy Hageman.

The next two days were filled with educational programs designed to teach agents more about Morocco and its travel products. Included in the program were such diverse topics as Morocco Luxury travel, Regional Cuisine, Women in Morocco, Cultural Heritage, and Nature and Adventure tourism. Attendees carried a “passport” which, when stamped at the various seminars, led to becoming a “certified Morocco Specialist.” The tradeshow floor was open Friday and Saturday and spread amongst the numerous booths were cultural exhibits such as a Berber Saharan camp and a demonstration of the making of mint tea.

Pre- and post-conference tours were booked solid and allowed many of the attendees to see a larger range of Moroccan tourism products up close at reduced prices. These tours were organized by several tour operators including Ya’llaTravellink and Marrakesh Voyages. Morocco is unique in that it has multiple types of travel available all within very close range, from seaside and surfing to mountains to desert adventure to luxury and this was reflected in the myriad of tour options available. A special one-day trip to the city of Fes was also added to the schedule, with air transport graciously provided by Royal Air Maroc. The whirlwind tour gave participants a taste of this magnificent Imperial city.

One of the highlights of the conference was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between ASTA, the Moroccan Tourism Board and the National Confederation of Tourism. Morocco pledged to help US travel agents, including the possibility of creating new FAM trips in the near future, and ASTA will help bring a truer picture of the possibilities of Moroccan tourism to the US. 

For their part, ASTA board members were extremely pleased with how the conference went. ASTA has experienced renewed growth in recent years, owing to multiple factors including a restructuring of dues, working closely with consortiums, and focusing on promotion and advocacy as well as on their own financial side. This combination, plus the hard work of staff and leadership, is making ASTA a driving force for advocacy on behalf of travel professionals in the US. The travel industry is still undergoing huge change and ASTA has many topics on its slate, including the DOT airline ancillary fee, expanded travel to Cuba, expanded state service sector taxes, and travel insurance. ASTA’s Global Convention, August 29 – September 1, 2015 in Washington, DC, promises to be a can’t-miss event. 

Morocco Tourism,



ASTA Researches Ways to Make the Internet Work for Agents
In September, 2000, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) released the findings of "ASTA 2000," a five-part research survey to explore the integration of the Internet into agency businesses and the Society. The research project is the first phase of ASTA's new plan to help its members compete in the technology-driven travel marketplace. (scroll for more) Consumer surveys conducted by Kerr & Downs Research Inc. indicated that although more leisure travellers sought information from 800-numbers and the Internet than from travel agents, travel agents remain the preferred method of booking air and cruise travel.

When researching and booking travel, consumers might research their options on the Internet, but many end up making the actual reservations some place else, often with a travel agent. For example, only 51 out of 100 consumers who researched air fares on the Internet actually booked their flights on the Internet. On the other hand, 85 out of 100 consumers who used an agent to research air travel made reservations through the travel agent. More

DE-Asia Delegates Experience Culture, Cuisine from Korea to France

Alexandria, Va.. Attendees will have the chance to experience three elegant sit-down dining and entertainment events during the course of ASTA's International Destination Expo-Asia (IDE) in Jeju, Republic of Korea, March 25-29, 2007, showcasing the cuisine and culture of two IDE host cities&emdash;Jeju and Lyon.

"Attendees at this year's IDE-Asia will be treated to unparalleled entertainment and cuisine that will give them real insight into Korean culture that they in turn can take back and share with their clients," said ASTA President and CEO Cheryl Hudak, CTC. "Additionally, guests will have a chance to experience a bit of French cuisine, courtesy of next year's IDE-Europe hosts, at the closing gala."

On Sunday March 25, guests will be feted at a welcome dinner, courtesy of the Korea Tourism Organization and Jeju Special Self-Governing Province. This welcome event will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for participants to experience traditional Korean performances, delicious food and the great hospitality of Korea. More

Africa Travel Magazine editions are keepers - in demand for 5 years or more. So are the articles on this website. That's why it's our policy to keep material on past events and personalities available. Need information on a past event? It may be in our archives. Write


International Destination Expo

New international meeting will debut in Prague, March 21-26, 2006

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is pleased to announce the International Destination Expo (IDE), a new education-intensive, international meeting designed to immerse travel agents in the culture, attractions and travel business of each year's chosen destination. Included in the program of events will be an open-floor trade show, one-on-one business meetings with suppliers, product seminars, networking events and plenty of sightseeing opportunities. Agents who register by Jan. 1, 2006, can take advantage of the early-bird rate of $229; those who attend ASTA's World Travel Congress in Montréal will receive $50 off early-bird registration fee and pay only $179.

The show will debut in Prague, March 21-26, 2006. The following year's show is scheduled to be held on Korea's JeJu Island, March 25-29, 2007.

"The IDE will be an educational event with a strong emphasis on classroom education and becoming a destination specialist not only in the host country but the surrounding region. Unlike with most FAMs, agents who attend will have the opportunity to be certified in the destination by the end of the trip," said ASTA Executive Vice President and COO Bill Maloney, CTC. "Additionally, agents will meet with local tourism vendors in a trade show setting. These vendors will be suppliers that agents would normally never have the chance to meet at a large U.S. show; they will be the smaller vendors that agents really need to get to know in order to thoroughly and expertly sell the destination.

"The International Destination Expo is not only for travel agents and suppliers who specialize in selling the area, but those who want to sell the area. U.S. travel suppliers are welcome to attend the IDE, and we do expect many will with the idea of meeting a qualified group of agents and promoting their product to them," he continued.

The International Destination Expo is targeted to all ASTA members, non-members and travel companies as an event offering intensive education on the destination. The program line-up in Prague begins with a series of half-day tours, an opening general session and a welcome event. The following two days will feature open-floor trade shows, special events and product and destination seminars. In 2006, the seminars will include destinations such as Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovak Republic. Agents will also be able to learn about the niche markets that these destinations have to offer, including spa, cruise options, attractions, golf, wine and cuisine. Exhibitors also will be conducting product seminars so agents will be able to learn more about their latest products and services.

Additionally, there will be extensive pre- and post-tour offerings each year to the destination and surrounding areas. Prague, for example, will offer 17 tours, including the Czech-specific Grand Tour of the Czech and Slovak Republics and the Czech Geniuses of Classical music. Additionally, agents can experience all of Central Europe on such tours as the World of Spas and the Central Europe Adventure.

For more information, contact ASTA's Meetings department at or visit

About ASTA

The mission of the American Society of Travel Agents and its affiliated organizations is to enhance the professionalism and profitability of members worldwide through effective representation in industry and government affairs, education and training, and by identifying and meeting the needs of the traveling public. The Society is the world's largest and most influential travel trade association with over 20,000 members in 140 countries.


ASTA's World Travel Congress

Cutting-edge education, a bustling trade show and lively networking... these are the main features of ASTA's annual conferences. From specialty events like ASTA's Cruisefest and In-Country Study Conference, to the premier event of the travel industry, the ASTA World Travel Congress, this is where working travel professionals meet, share challenges and gather the tools they need to stay on the leading edge of their profession.

ATA and Africa Travel Magazine played an active role in ASTA World Congress, providing direct reports daily to this web site by Karen Hoffman and Robert Eilets. As partners in tourism with ASTA for years, we intend to increase our coverage this year.

For information on ASTA see the association's web site:


TRAVEL AGENTS STRIKE BACK: Associations in the United States and the United Kingdom have reacted to the threat of Internet-related direct bookings with a double-edged strategy designed to a) help members better capitalise on the power of the Internet and b) plant an element of reasonable doubt in the minds of consumers about buying through an unknown, uncertified dot-com company as against a trained, certified and accredited travel agency. This edition of Issues & Trends reports on the strategies of the American Society of Travel Agents and the Association of British Travel Agents to safeguard their members' livelihoods and profitability.


The survey showed that the "look-book" ratio for travel agents exceeds that of the Internet across all travel categories.

Travel Agents














The research also found that travel agents are the preferred option when booking family vacations, complex itineraries and international travel. When comparing travel agents with the Internet, consumers said travel agents are more convenient, do all the work and allow them to talk to a person. The Internet, on the other hand, is available on nights and weekends, offers more options and gives the consumer greater control.

However, leisure travellers do have trust concerns when using the Internet, citing security, difficulty finding information and not trusting the information online as issues.

The research project utilised member surveys, member group interviews, non-member focus groups, a consumer telephone survey and existing travel industry data to create a complete picture of the technology landscape. This will be the basis for the Society's future plans.

A consumer telephone study was conducted by Kerr & Downs in spring 2000. The agency research was carried out by ASTA's research department and Plog Research in Reseda, California. ASTA also called upon its research family of 500 members to assess the level of technology being used in agencies today.

According to ASTA President and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Richard Copland: "The research shows that frequent travellers value and appreciate the convenience and expertise an agent offers. We also found that our members are stepping up to the challenge and opportunities afforded by new technology and using the Internet in their daily operations for e-mail, client communications, research and even booking travel with suppliers.

"This research project will be the cornerstone for all the important initiatives we undertake in the coming months. The message is clear: We must waste no time in further integrating the Internet into our businesses and our Society."

 ASTA World Travel Congress