The Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA) paid tribute to Olga Ramudo, president and CEO of Express Travel (Miami) with the award of the Barbara O’Hara Advocacy Award. Ramudo, one of 28 travel agents who received a letter from United Airlines, quickly emerged as a leader in the fight against the airline’s merchant fees policy.
The award is presented each year by ITSA to the ASTA member who has made the most significant contribution in advocating for the interests of the travel agency community before federal, state and/or local governmental authorities.
“Olga Ramudo is the perfect example of what a travel agent advocate should be," said Bruce Charendoff, ITSA’s immediate past president. "From the moment the merchant fee issue broke, Olga asked not what would be done for her, but what she could do for her industry. She has worked tirelessly to educate the Florida Congressional delegation and the media about the issue and its potentially devastating impact. Just recently, she flew to Washington, DC, to participate in a Congressional briefing on the subject. She understands the connection between political issue advocacy and business success and turns that understanding into swift, game-changing action. Olga has set an example that ITSA hopes many others will follow.”
Along with two partners, Ramudo, who left Cuba in 1959, started Express Travel, a full-service travel management company, in 1989. Today, the $20 million travel agency has grown to more than 32 employees and has received numerous awards. For three years, Express Travel has been recognized as one of the top 500 Hispanic companies by Hispanic Business Magazine. The South Florida Business Journal ranked Express Travel as the fifth most successful women-owned business in Dade County, and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has named it one of the top Hispanic companies in the community.
Express Travel is a member of the Cruise Line Industry Association, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, Beacon council, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, Camacol (Latin chamber of Commerce) and ASTA.
ITSA’s Board of Directors selects the winner from a pool of candidates nominated by ASTA’s Government Affairs department. ITSA is the trade association for online travel companies and global distribution systems and has had a productive 11-year partnership with ASTA. Among its members or their subsidiaries are: Amadeus, CheapTickets, Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Orbitz, Priceline.com, Sabre Holdings, Travelocity, Travelport and Vegas.com.