“ASTA really put together an amazing experience” was a phrase echoed by those who attended ASTA’s seventh International Destination Expo (IDE), in Lima, Peru. The event brought together travel professionals from around the world for in-depth training and education on the culture, unique tourist attractions and travel business of Lima and Peru. Through this one-of-a-kind event, travel agents returned home equipped with business tools, personal experiences and local connections that will enable them to grow their agencies.
“ASTA’s IDE provides travel agents access to and personal contact with a hand-picked set of local suppliers and global educators in an exclusive meeting environment. All of these programs are designed to do one thing: distinguish attendees from other agents that simply do not have the level of professionalism and product knowledge that they have,” said Tony Gonchar, ASTA CEO.
“There simply is no other industry event that brings together this caliber of destination training and networking,” said ASTA President and Chair Nina Meyer. “Thanks to the hard work of Prom Peru and APOTUR, IDE 2012 has been a tremendous success from groundbreaking education and sightseeing to evening events that showcase the style and passion of Peru.”
“We are much honored to have been the first country in South America to ever host the ASTA IDE, and to have had the opportunity to work hand in hand during the event, with the most important travel professionals from around the world, sharing what Peru has to offer, onsite,” said Peru’s Vice-Minister of Tourism Claudia Cornejo. “We believe that the success of the ASTA IDE 2012 is the direct result of the commitment and hard work of all entities involved in bringing this event to fruition. Thus, we would like to thank our partners ASTA, APOTUR, Westin Lima Hotel & Convention Center, LAN Airlines, and especially, all those travel agents, our main allies when it comes to spreading the world and selling our country.”
Thanks to a series of one-on-one appointments and more than 76 exhibiting companies, agents were able to make individual contacts with many of Peru’s most exclusive brands, most of which could not be made at any North American trade show.
“The IDE concept is wonderful–you cannot sell a destination from a picture, you have to experience it!” said Lidia Slusarek of VIP Travel Service (Rochester, N.Y.)
“As a local tour operator in Peru, IDE in Lima has been such a great unique opportunity to meet potential buyers not only from the US but from other countries as well. I’m very sure IDE 2012 in Peru has helped local travel agents expand business and promise Peru unique attractions,” said Eliu Campos with Lima-based ECS Travel Peru.
Travel agent attendees who completed their Peru Destination Specialist curriculum will be listed on ASTA’s consumer website, TravelSense.org, and promoted to the more than 33,000 unique visitors who go to the site each month. Additionally, ASTA will work with attendees over the coming year to sustain the investment agents have made in their ongoing education and professional development.
Said Helen Gbala with the College of DuPage (Itasca, Ill.): “The 2012 IDE in Peru was beyond amazing- the venues, entertainment and, of course, the education was not only a surprise but a delight! I am so glad I went- and ASTA really put together an amazing experience.”
Travel agents also had the opportunity to experience for themselves the many offerings and attractions of Lima and Peru through a series of sightseeing and pre- and post-tours. Tour participants had the chance to see Peru from an insider’s perspective, learning about new features that take clients beyond Machu Picchu and allow them to explore a Peru not often found in guidebooks.”
“Absence of information in an area prevents clients from being able to plan trips to different destinations. For example, few have heard of river cruises in Peru. As agents, we can go home and sell the destinations we learn about at IDE. We can tell the story of Peru to our clients,” said Brenda Caldwell, Brenda’s Travel (Durham, NC).
Throughout the course of the IDE, agents were treated three gala evening events, including the opening night at The Magic Water Park, where guests were treated to a visual interpretation of Peru’s history as told through more than 200 performers and artists.
Susana Romero, manager of Celebrity Cruises (Miami), said, “We are so excited to be here and there are so many opportunities in working with ASTA Presenting and working with the agents has been a magical experience. The room was full of energy and excitement. And the [opening] event was over the top.”
Friday night found delegates enjoying an exquisite Peruvian gourmet dinner at the 5th-century, pre-Colombian pyramid, the Huaca Pucllana, where guests were entertained by music from renowned composer and instrumentalist Manuel Miranda.