ASTA’s recent Travel Retailing & Destination Expo (THETRADESHOW) in Las Vegas saw the travel industry’s best and brightest come together at ASTA’s annual black-tie Advocacy Dinner, sponsored by Sabre Travel Network. The event, which celebrates ASTA’s influence in shaping the policies affecting the retail travel business, continues to build upon its success as was evidenced by the fact that this year’s event saw a 54-percent rise in attendance by top travel industry executives from 159 to 245.
“Each and every day, ASTA demonstrates its ability to positively influence key legislators and policymakers on issues affecting the retail travel marketplace, but it is through events such as these that we are able to bring the agency industry’s collective fire-power under one roof and thank them for their support of ASTA and our initiatives,” said Tony Gonchar, ASTA CEO. “The total strength these agencies wield in the marketplace is significant, representing close to 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States. The fact that they are ASTA members is a testament to ASTA’s leadership in the advocacy arena.”
Each year, top executives from the travel industry’s leading organizations have the opportunity to come together to network and strengthen business ties.
Of the event, Roger Hale, president and CEO of ADTRAV Travel Management (Birmingham, Ala.) said: “I consider ASTA’s Advocacy Dinner as the ‘can’t miss’ event of the year for the travel industry. I look forward to discussing industry issues with other senior executives and owners from a broad spectrum of travel companies. Through our input, ASTA has been able to deliver the message to both state and federal lawmakers that we are a vibrant, jobs-producing industry that can provide valuable insight into the world of travel.”
“I continue to be amazed about the caliber of leaders that ASTA is able to assemble for their Advocacy dinner. It truly represents the game-changers of the travel industry,” said Marc Casto, president and COO of Casto Travel (San Jose, Calif.).
“The retail travel agents in America need a united, powerful lobbying force to represent our interests. Our participation at the Advocacy Dinner is one way in which we, Travel Leaders, show our support for ASTA. The attendees are truly many of the industry’s leaders representing both suppliers and agencies,” said Travel Leaders Franchise Group President Roger E. Block, CTC.
“The Advocacy Dinner is an incredible event that brings together the most influential players in the travel community. Each year I look forward to catching up with my old friends and making valuable new connections. ASTA is doing phenomenal work in the area of travel advocacy, and I am proud to be an ASTA member,” said Lee Thomas, executive vice president of ALTOUR (Jeffersonville, Ind.) and president of The Travel Authority.
The Advocacy Dinner, which took place in the Cosmopolitan Hotel on Monday, Sept. 12, is an exclusive, black-tie event bringing together elite travel agents, suppliers and industry players in recognition of ASTA lobbying efforts and legislative successes at the state and federal level. This year, those in attendance had even greater opportunities to make contacts both prior to and following the dinner, thanks to the addition of a new networking dessert reception.
Also during the event, the fourth annual ITSA-ASTA Barbara O’Hara Advocacy Award was presented to Mike Greenwald, owner, Personalized Travel Inc. (Oakland Park, Fla.) and to John W. Lewis, president and CEO of Travel Management Partners, Inc. (Raleigh, N.C.), for their outstanding contributions as personal advocates for the retail travel sellers’ agenda in state legislatures, the U.S. Congress and the Department of Transportation.