The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award to A.J. (Rick) Mazza, founder, president and CEO of American Marketing Group (AMG), the parent company of 19 travel brands and three agency networks (TRAVELSAVERS, NEST, and the Affluent Traveler Collection).
Not an annual award, the Lifetime Achievement recipient is only recommended periodically by ASTA’s board of directors to honor a travel industry innovator “whose creativity, dedication and inspiration have advanced the travel and tourism industry.”
As a 50-year veteran of the travel industry, Rick founded AMG to service the travel agency community. AMG encompasses the first marketing group for travel agents (TRAVELSAVERS) and the first and only marketing group for independent home-based agencies (NEST), the company said.
Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, co-owner and co-president of Valerie Wilson Travel, and chair of ASTA’s Corporate Advisory Council, presented Rick with the award saying, “It is an honor for ASTA to recognize Rick for his continuous dedication and leadership in the travel industry. Thank you, Rick, for your unwavering belief in the travel community”.
Travel professionals offered praise and congratulatory remarks for Mazza, including Arnold Donald, CEO and president of Carnival Corp., who said, “This is a recognition of your career lifetime achievement but also a recognition of the many lives you’ve touched.” At Royal Caribbean International, Senior Vice President of Sales, Trade Support and Service Vicki Freed called the recognition well-deserved. “You’ve dedicated your life to our industry and you’ve made us a better industry,” Freed stated.
Mazza began his career as a travel agent and owner of a successful travel agency in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY, and co-founded the American Travel Affairs Council (ATAC).
Following the events of 9/11 and in recognition of the fact that nearly one in 10 jobs worldwide is connected to the travel industry, Mazza helped in an industry-wide campaign to jump start the travel industry once again. He has received numerous awards and honors throughout his distinguished career for his work and dedication to the travel industry.
Past winners of ASTA’s Lifetime Achievement award are: Tom Comlin (2008), Dave Stockart (2007), Francis Goranin (2003), Daryl Thrasher (2001), Don Daly (1996), H.G. “Red” MacKenzie (1994) and H. Whitley Hawkins (1993).