The award is the highest honor that ASTA presents to individuals. ASTA’s Travel Hall of Fame Award was established in 1971 during the 41st World Travel Congress in Sydney, Australia. Its purpose is to recognize and honor individuals whose careers have greatly influenced the development and expansion of the travel and tourism industry.
“Kay’s vital role in the travel industry cannot be understated,” said ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar. “For more than 30 years, Kay’s dedication to the travel agency distribution system was unparalleled—a fact which showed in every aspect of her business dealings from how she treated her employees and the travel agency industry at-large, to her support of ASTA and its members.”
Prior to her retirement in March 2011, Urban had served as CEO and president of Amadeus Americas at Amadeus Technology Group SA since September 2009 and as the president and CEO of Amadeus North America Llc., a division of Amadeus Global Travel Distribution SA, since 2004. As such, she was responsible for Amadeus’ Miami-based regional headquarters serving the United States and Canada, including all aspects of the customer experience. Her responsibilities included sales and market management, product management, commercial operations and customer support and training for Amadeus North America’s travel agency, multinational, cruise line and specialty customers. She has more than 25 years of experience in travel distribution.
Prior to assuming her position as president and CEO, she was the executive vice president and COO for the company. In 2001 and 2002, she held dual roles, also serving as director of global customer support for Amadeus worldwide. Urban has also served as vice president of customer support and operations, where she initiated many leading-edge customer services, such as online learning and support tools.
Urban began her travel industry career in 1977 as a reservations agent for Eastern Airlines and moved into her first managerial role as manager of customer integration. In 1982 she joined Industry Automation, which subsequently became computer reservation company, System One. Beginning in 1986 at System One, Urban held such positions as manager of strategic planning for support and training and director of customer support. She subsequently advanced through several key executive management positions of increasing scope and responsibility, through System One’s acquisition by Amadeus in 1997.
Urban has been named for five years by Travel Agent Magazine as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Travel.” She has also served as an Advisory Board member for Travel Com Expo and was recognized by ACTE as a Distinguished Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida State University in Tallahassee.