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ASTA's Russo Joins Travel InsuredDecember 7, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
Travel Insured International, a leading travel insurance provider, has announced that Chris Russo, who served as President of ASTA from 2008 through September 2011, has joined Travel Insured as National Account Manager.
Russo, who will report to Travel Insured Director of Sales and Industry Relations Isaac Cymrot, will be based in Denver, where he has spent much of his 22-year career in the retail travel industry. Russo takes on industry-wide responsibilities for national accounts in his new position.
Russo was elected ASTA President in September 2008, and his tenure was extended by the ASTA board to a second, one-year term as President and Interim CEO prior to the appointment of current ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar. Russo was succeeded by current ASTA President Nina Meyer in September of this year.
Russo started as a retail travel agent and worked for 12 years before buying the agency Travel Partners in the Denver suburb of Broomfield, CO, in 2000. As an active member of ASTA's Rocky Mountain Chapter, he served as chapter Vice President and then two terms as chapter President. In 2003 he was named an industry rising star by Travel Agent. Russo served as Chairman of ASTA's Young Professionals Committee before serving two terms as Chapter Presidents Council Chair on the ASTA Board of Directors.
Cymrot welcomed Russo to the company: "Chris Russo is a respected travel industry leader who brings his combination of lengthy ASTA experience and demonstrated management success to our growing organization. Most importantly, Chris brings his knowledge of how the working travel agent can not just survive, but be highly successful in today's challenging economy. We are excited about working with Chris to strengthen our industry partnerships in the months ahead."
Russo said he was attracted to Travel Insured both by the rewarding professional relationships he has formed with the sales team over many years as one of its travel industry partners, and by a recent visit to Travel Insured's Connecticut headquarters. "What really attracted me was when I saw the enthusiasm and energy at Travel Insured's offices, and how long so many people have been there," Russo said. "I saw that it is a good company to work for."
"Because of my background as a travel industry professional I know what people are going through in these tough times," Russo noted. "I know how hard it is for people to change sales habits and put some focus on the earning opportunities they have selling ancillary travel products like insurance. I plan to use my experience to help agents overcome their tendency to take the path of least resistance and educate them about making travel insurance selling a worthwhile endeavor."
Russo is a U.S. Navy veteran who served on the destroyer escort frigate USS Gray. He also served in public relations for the Denver Nuggets basketball team of the NBA and in ticket management for the Denver Zephyrs AAA baseball club before joining the travel industry. In his personal time Russo is active with his sons in the Boy Scouts of America.
Travel Insured International, based in Hartford, CT, was founded in 1994 by insurance industry executive Peter Gehris when he acquired the travel protection division of the Travelers Insurance Company.