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Industry Pioneers and Travel Agents to be Honored by CLIA

March 9, 2012 By: George Dooley Travel Agent

Maurice Zarmati, a cruise industry pioneer who held senior positions with Carnival Cruise Lines and Costa Cruises, Sherrie and Charlie Funk of Just Cruisin Plus, and Brad and Van Anderson, co-presidents of Avoya Travel/American Express, will be honored on April 28 during the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Hall of Fame Gala Dinner at cruise3sixty in Fort Lauderdale. All are inductees into the CLIA 2012 Cruise Industry Hall of Fame.

Now in its eighth year, the CLIA Cruise Industry Hall of Fame honors those individuals, past and present, whose efforts and accomplishments represent a significant contribution to and positive impact on the development and growth of cruise vacations. They are selected based on open nominations from CLIA's membership.

The 2012 inductees were chosen in three categories: Cruise Line Executive, Cruise Retailer, and a new 2012 Cruise Sales Innovator category. CLIA's summary of the careers of the inductees include:

Maurice Zarmati – Cruise Line Executive Award: One of the most beloved executives in the cruise industry, Maurice Zarmati retired after 43 years working for Carnival Cruise Lines and Costa Cruises, only to become a senior global consultant for sales, marketing and passenger traffic initiatives for Costa. Born in Egypt to an Italian father and French mother, Zarmati and his family emigrated from his birthplace to Genoa, Italy, in 1956 and to the U.S. in 1959. Already fluent in Italian, French and Arabic, he became proficient in English, and eventually added Spanish. The day he graduated from college, Zarmati joined Arison Shipping and two years later was working for company founder Ted Arison on the original team that created Carnival Cruise Lines. Zarmati served as southeast regional sales manager from 1973 until his promotion to director of sales in 1979. He was named vice president of sales in 1987 and was responsible for the world’s largest field sales force.

In his role at Costa Cruises, Zarmati oversaw sales development, marketing, revenue management, finance, human resources and passenger services for North America while serving as president and CEO before retiring in November 2011.

A popular public speaker, Zarmati has also been active in charitable work, including service on the board of directors of the Fiduciary Trust International of the South, Boy Scouts of America and the National Safety Council. In 2011-12 he chaired the Gala Committee for the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. He is also active in the South Florida community as past president of the Executives' Association of Greater Miami and he is involved with United Way of Miami-Dade County. A member of the Travel Industry Association of America, Zarmati is a certified travel counselor and serves on the marketing committee of the American Society of Travel Agents.

Sherrie and Charlie Funk – Cruise Retailer Award:  Co-owners of Just Cruisin Plus based in Nashville, Tennessee’s first cruise-only agency, Sherrie and Charlie Funk are also the producers of one of the largest consumer cruise and vacation shows in the Southeast, nationally recognized speakers and trainers in the travel industry, and the authors of numerous books on the travel industry business. They are also founders and administrators of “Travel Agency Best Practices,” a Facebook group forum for travel retailers. Together they were named Travel Trade magazine’s Travel Agents of the Year in 2003. Their company has earned several distinguished honors, including sales awards from the industry’s largest cruise lines, Carnival Cruise Lines’ Agency of the Year, and recognition for cruise and travel promotions.

A finalist for Godmother of Liberty of the Seas, Sherrie Funk is an advisory board member of and past president of numerous organizations including the Nashville chapter of the National Association of Women’s Business Owners, Nashville Women in Travel, and the Board of Governors of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. She has served on the advisory board of Premier Cruise Line and on the advertising advisory board of The Tennessean. Sherrie is the current chair of the Antioch High School Hospitality Academy Advisory Board and a contributing columnist for Travel Research Online.

Charlie Funk joined Just Cruisin full time in 1993. He has served on advisory boards for CLIA,, several cruise lines and CruiseLink. He is the past president of the Nashville chapter of SKAL International and currently serves on the advisory board for Norwegian Cruise Line. He also serves on the advisory boards for Hospitality and Tourism Academies at Glencliff and Hunter’s Lane high schools in Nashville. Charlie also is a former columnist for Travel Trade. Prior to joining the agency he worked in research and development in the aerospace and synthetic fiber industries.

Brad and Van Anderson – 2012 Cruise Sales Innovator Award: Brad and Van Anderson are the Co-Presidents of Avoya Travel / American Express and have led Avoya in building a long-standing reputation as one of the world’s leading travel companies. As a multi-generational company, the Anderson family has always had a passion for travel. Their parents, Pal and Pat Anderson, entered the travel business in the 1960’s while Brad and Van were still in grade school.

Under Brad and Van’s direction, Avoya’s award-winning business model has forever changed how customers buy cruises and vacations, and the way travel professionals connect with them. Through their innovation and patent-pending technology, they’ve created a network of over 500 independently owned and operated agencies (Avoya Independent Affiliates) who have achieved remarkable levels of success for their businesses and suppliers alike. The Andersons’ unique approach of integrating technology and people has substantially increased the efficiency of travel sellers, while at the same time improving the experience for customers worldwide. All this has resulted in a profitable, fast-growing global brand with annual sales over $200 million.

The Andersons and Avoya have received notable accolades, including being named ‘Travel Agency of the Year’ a record three times by Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, American Express, Oceania Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, and Brendan Vacations. Brad and Van have also been featured for their groundbreaking technology, innovative Live Leads program, and leadership in travel by top industry publications, including Travel Agent. Both Brad and Van serve on numerous industry advisory boards and are active supporters of several domestic and international charities.  

The 2011 gala Hall of Fame Dinner is a centerpiece of cruise3sixty, following three days of general sessions, seminars and workshops, ship inspections, a trade show and other social events.

Previous Hall of Fame honorees cited by CLIA include:
Cruise Retailer:
    •     Joe Ewart – CruiseOne/Cruises, Inc. - 2005
    •     Bob & Judy Falcone – Cruises, Inc., - 2005
    •     Marvin Davis – Cruise Planners - 2005
    •     Fred Kassner – GoGo Vacations / Liberty Travel -2006
    •     Kathy and Leo Falkensammer, owners, Prestige Travel -2007
    •     Joanie Ogg – Past President, NACTA - 2008
    •     Walter Sherota – Gold Coast Travel -2009
    •     Phil & Doris Davidoff – Belair Travel - 2010
    •     Matthew Upchurch - Virtuoso– 2010
    •     Michele Morgan – Signature Travel - 2011
Cruise Line Executive:
    •    Ted Arison – Carnival Cruise Lines - 2005
    •    Richard Revnes – Royal Cruise Line - 2005
    •    Warren Titus – Royal Viking Line - 2005
    •    Bob Dickinson – Carnival Cruise Line - 2006
    •    Knut Kloster – Norwegian Cruise Line - 2007
    •    Richard D. Fain -- Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. - 2007
    •    A. Kirk Lanterman – Holland America Line - 2008
    •    Edwin Stephan – Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.-2009
    •    Micky Arison – Carnival Corporation – 2010
    •    Richard Sasso – MSC Cruises - 2011
At – Large:
    •    Joel Abels – Travel Trade - 2005
    •    Bob Kwortnik – CLIA (Special Recognition Award) - 2005
    •    “The Love Boat” Television Series - 2006
    •    Deborah Natansohn – Orient Lines, Cunard, Seabourn Cruise Line - 2007
    •    Donna Flora – American Express - 2008
    •    Joyce Landry & Jo Kling, Landry & Kling - 2009
    •    Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH) – 2010
    •    United States Coast Guard - 2011

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About the Author

George Dooley
George Dooley, Travel Agent’s senior contributing editor covering retail and technology, has a long-standing reputation as one of the top travel industry journalists. He notes...

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By George Dooley | March 9, 2012
Maurice Zarmati, Sherrie and Charlie Funk and Brad and Van Anderson to be honored.
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