Innovation Thrives at the ASTA Global Convention

Written by: Amanda Bailey on October 07, 2016

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September 25th-28th, members of KHM Travel Group’s team joined travel agents, travel industry executives, and other industry experts and advocates at the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) Global Convention.

The conference, held in Reno, Nevada, emphasized the important role ASTA plays on both the political stage and in the business realm.

KHM Travel Group’s President/CEO Rick Zimmerman, Vice President of Agent Operations Lisa Morris, and National Training Director Marie Smith were all in attendance. Bill Coyle, a veteran travel agent from Encompass the World Travel here in Brunswick, also joined the KHM Travel Group staff in Reno.

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Trade shows are a valuable time to make new contacts in the travel industry!

Many sessions of the convention were focused on the future of travel and travel agents. One of the main focuses was the current legislative issues that may impact travel professionals and travelers.

“ASTA is always meeting with people on Capitol Hill,” Bill said. “They are educating legislators on how decisions they make affect our industry.”

The star-studded event featured speakers like TV host and travel expert Samantha Brown, President and CEO of Marriott International Inc. Arne Sorenson, President of Norwegian Cruise Line Andy Stuart, and the celebrated pilot and aviation expert Sully Sullenberger.

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Sully Sullenberg had the crowd completely enthralled during his keynote speech.

Marie says the audience was captivated by Sullenberger’s keynote on the final night of the conference.

“I’ve never seen a room of people so quiet, and so on the edge of their seat,” said Marie.

Sessions at the ASTA Global Convention ranged from destination-based sessions, to forums on the impact of peer-to-peer markets on agencies, to discussions on credit card fraud and alternative forms of payment.

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In Ohio alone, ASTA saved the travel agent community more than $86 million dollars in 2015!

Marie focused her attention on sessions pertaining to compliance, sales and social media. She attended the early morning sales sessions with Mike Marchev, an expert at turning routine or mundane aspects of selling into ideas that are both unexpected and engaging.

Compliance in selling Cuba was also beneficial topic. Contrary to what some may think based on media coverage, Cuba is not yet a completely open book. The embargo has not been fully lifted, which means travelers can not bring cigars or rum back from the country, and visits must still fall under one of 12 approve categories.

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The View from the Top panel brought together industry leaders to discuss their visions and plans for the future of travel.

Lisa said she found the leadership workshop with Chief Motivational Officer Stuart Cohen extremely valuable. Cohen brought his years of industry leadership with companies like World Travel Holdings, Vacation.com and Celebrity Cruises to his presentation on the 12 effective management strategies.

The black tie Advocacy Dinner on Tuesday evening commemorated ASTA’s accomplishments this year. It also gives agents the chance to thank ASTA and our essential industry partners for all they do for us as a host, and for agents.

“This year, it was very apparent that the host agency platform is important to ASTA,” Bill said. “Hosts are important not just for expanding membership, but for distributing information to agents.”

Rick, Lisa and Bill at the Advocacy Dinner on Tuesday evening.

Rick, Lisa and Bill at the Advocacy Dinner on Tuesday evening.

Because KHM Travel Group is an ASTA Premium Member, our agents have access to the latest in legal and governmental updates, sales strategies, product knowledge and business tools.

“Being involved with ASTA allows us to keep up-to-date on what the government is trying to impose on us, like with their definition of independent contractors,” Marie said. “We can keep connected with the legal arm, and learn how that affects what our future looks like.”

For more on becoming a travel agent with us, request our free information packet! Just fill out the form on the right side of the screen or call 1-888-611-1220.

ASTA is the world’s largest association of travel professionals. Its members include travel agents and the companies whose products they sell such as tours, cruises, hotels, car rentals, etc. They are the leading advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the traveling public.