The Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA) presented John Haskins, co-owner, The Cruise Shop/Viking Travel, Inc. (Naperville, Ill.) and Lee Thomas, president, Altour (Jeffersonville, Ind.) with the 2012 Barbara O'Hara Advocacy Awards.
Haskins and Thomas were honored for their support of ASTA's advocacy programs. ASTA cited Haskins for exemplary leadership and fundraising efforts on behalf of ASTAPAC and Thomas was recognized for his leadership of the ASTA's Corporate Advisory Council and his inspiring grassroots engagement.
The award is presented each year by ITSA to the ASTA member or members who have made the most significant contribution in advocating for the interests of the travel agency community before federal, state and/or local governmental authorities.
"John Haskins is a force of nature and has for years set the gold standard in generating member donations to ASTAPAC. His prior chairmanship of ASTAPAC and his ongoing efforts in the Midwest chapter have ensured that ASTAPAC remains among the top travel industry PACs and that the Midwest consistently outperforms every other chapter in the country, by a wide margin, in terms of hard dollars and soft dollars raised, member participation, and all other relevant metrics," said Bruce Charendoff, senior vice president, government & external affairs at Sabre Holdings, who presented the award on behalf of ITSA.
Of Lee Thomas, Charendoff said: "During the Kentucky legislature's consideration of a travel insurance deregulation bill this year, Lee engaged his employees in our grassroots efforts, generating dozens of phone calls and emails to the state legislature and helping to push the bill across the finish line. He did a yeoman's job in rallying the troops to make sure our message was heard and decisive action was taken. Lee has also been a steady hand at the helm of the CAC, which has seen major growth during his term. His thoughtful, positive influence over that organization has ensured that ASTA's voice is heard everywhere it needs to be heard - from the halls of Congress to state houses and city halls throughout the nation."
In 2007, Haskins won ASTA's Travel Agent of the Year Award, which recognizes an active travel agent member who has made a great contribution to the travel industry and whose outstanding influence and professional activity have advanced the status of travel agents.
Lee Thomas began his career in travel in 1994, when he joined The Travel Authority (TTA) as an analyst. He was later promoted to controller, and eventually to vice president of Finance & Technology in 2002. In 2005, he was named executive vice president. In 2009, when ALTOUR International acquired TTA, Thomas joined ALTOUR as an executive vice president and was promoted to president of The Travel Authority, a leisure division of ALTOUR.
In his current role, Thomas and his team oversee corporate operations for the Midwest operations of ALTOUR, ALTOUR Performance, 20 TTA leisure division locations, 11 ALTOUR retail locations acquired from American Express and ALTOUR's SwiftTrip, LLC investment. SwiftTrip is a software development company that specializes in building booking tools and websites for the travel industry.
Thomas sits on the Board of Directors of ASTA, where he is a member of the Executive Committee and Commonwealth Business Travel. Thomas also serves on the advisory boards of American Express Travel, Continental Airlines, Cornerstone Information Systems and Delta Air Lines Players of Distinction. Additionally Thomas is the chair of ASTA‚Äôs Corporate Advisory Council.
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 13-year partnership with ASTA. Among its members or their subsidiaries are: Amadeus, Away.com, CheapTickets, Expedia.com, LastMinute.com, Orbitz, Priceline.com, Sabre Holdings, Travelocity, Travelport and Vegas.com.