John C. Shands, executive vice president of Leisure Travel Alliance, died June 12 following a 10-month battle with cancer. John opened Shands International Travel in Brownsville, TX in 1974. Shands International subsequently expanded to include branch offices in Harlingen, McAllen and South Padre Island in Texas. In 1996, John joined the staff of Houston-based Consolidated Travel Services, Inc. (CTSI), a regional travel agency consortium, as director of sales.
Following CTSI’s acquisition by Vacation.com in 1999, Shands and CTSI president Stuart Godwin worked for Vacation.com through 2006. Shands, Godwin and a group of investors launched Leisure Travel Alliance in 2007. LTA has since grown to include 250 travel agency members and 50 preferred supplier relationships.
Prior to choosing the travel industry as a career, Shands attended Schreiner Military Institute, Texas Tech University and served four years in the Navy completing two tours of duty in Vietnam.
“Whatever the situation, John had the gift of being able to get people to like him even as he argued his position forcefully and passionately. Whether he was talking to a United States senator, a travel agency owner or a cruise line executive, he was a wonderful communicator. His business skills, people skills and service to Leisure Travel Alliance during our first three years of operation were invaluable,” Godwin said.
Shands is survived by his wife of 37 years, Mary Jane Shands; daughters Tracy, Allison and Jeanne; two son-in-laws; his sister Sondra; two granddaughters; and, numerous nieces, nephews and friends inside and outside of the travel industry. John’s son-in-law, Dennis Acosta, is director of member sales and service for Leisure Travel Alliance.
The family has suggested remembrances can be made to the Sunshine Haven Hospice, PO Box 4478, Brownsville, TX 78523, 956-350-8400.