Tom Conlin, founder of Conlin Travel in Ann Arbor, MI, and Fred Miller, former vice president of travel industry relations for Marriott International, were given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) during this week’s THETRADESHOW in Orlando. Conlin was praised for his pioneering efforts as an agent and tour operator, and Miller recognized for his championing of professional standards and opposition to card mills.
"Throughout the course of his career, Tom has not only been a pioneer but an ambassador for the industry," said Cheryl Hudak, ASTA President and CEO. "No matter the challenge, he has learned to adapt and his constant enthusiasm for travel and the travel agency industry is an inspiration to all.
He founded Conlin Travel in 1959, after serving in the U.S. Air Force. Five years later he started Conlin Athletic Tours, which would become the official travel agency for Big 10 bowl trips. Since then, he has purchased other agencies and expanded his business many times over, opening Conlin Enrichment Tours, for alumni and specialty groups; Conlin Travel in San Francisco, a corporate travel agency; Conlin Groups & Meetings; Conlin Consulting, a technology integration firm; and Crossing Boundaries, a joint ownership that offers full-service incentive travel management.
Realizing the need for highly-qualified entrants to the travel industry, Conlin and Joseph Hallissey opened Conlin-Hallissey Travel School in 1983. In 1998, he established the Great Lakes Cruise Co., which now represents all cruise lines on the Great Lakes, and brought back passenger cruise ships to the Great Lakes by chartering two European ships (MV Columbus and Le Levant) for four consecutive years.
Among his accomplishments are many firsts, namely that Conlin Travel was the first agency to charter the Concorde with British Airways, and he conducted the first alumni group trip to China. During his early years in the travel business, Conlin arranged for hundreds of student charters to Europe and created the concept of University Abroad. Later, Conlin Travel became the official U.S. reservations center for Le Levant, a European cruise line.
Outside of his businesses, Conlin has been active in the industry overall and was a past president of ASTA's Michigan chapter, in addition to serving on several national ASTA committees, among them the Committee on Consumer Travel Awareness.
"Fred Miller is one of the industry's leading executives and a
long-time ASTA member," Hudak said. "He has devoted himself to the
industry and provided travel agents with encouragement and professional
leadership. He consistently has provided unwavering support of travel
agents and stands out as an example of what anyone in the travel
industry, or for that matter any industry, should aspire to become."
In May 2008, Miller retired from Marriott after 32 years of Renaissance and Marriott service. While with Marriott, he led the development and execution of Marriott's wholesale strategies and programs and was responsible for the creation of Marriott's Hotel Excellence! Travel Agent training program, along with its Preferred Travel Agency Commission Program.
Miller, a 40-year veteran in the lodging industry, joined Marriott International in early 1997 as part of the company's acquisition of the Renaissance Hotel Group. He began his career in the lodging industry in Atlanta as a national sales manager with Holiday Inn. Since then, he has held positions of increasing sales, revenue management and reservations responsibilities with the former Stouffer Hotel and Renaissance Hotel groups.
Additionally, he developed the first group tour guide for motor coach operators, the development of the first hotel voucher program, and the development of a free wheel fly drive program with American Airlines.
Miller was named the National Business Travel Association's "1993 Allied Member of the Year." He is a member of the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) Advisory Board, has served on ASTA's Advisory Board; and is a board member of Tourism Cares and Traveling Times. From 2000-2004, he served as Chairman of the Institute of Business Travel Management. He earned his Certified Travel Counselor and Certified Travel Industry Executive designations from the Travel Institute.