The honorees have been announced at the ASTA Global Convention. Every year, ASTA honors industry suppliers who show enthusiasm in partnering with agencies and rewards travel professionals for their work.
ASTA’s Global Convention was held in San Diego, California, this year. Over the weekend, hundreds of travel industry professionals attended the event at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina. During the event, agents are able to network with more than 200 suppliers and take part in dozens of educational sessions.
Taking home the title of 2017 River Cruise Line Partner of the Year was AmaWaterways. The company has more than 20 business development managers in North America and hosts more than 30 ‘Seminars on the River’ each year. During the seminars, travel professionals are able to experience the itineraries first hand while learning from the sales team members about in-depth product knowledge and sales tips.
There to accept the award was Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner and Gary Murphy, vice president of sales and co-owner.
The company was awarded following a keynote address by Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation. ASTA’s president and CEO, Zane Kerby, presented the award.
Carnival has created several travel professional focused programs including the popular, Agentpalooza, which took place this May. Agents met with sales leaders one-on-one to learn more about the line’s offerings. There was also plenty of entertainment in the “Carnival Fun Zone” with a DJ, lawn games, and photo booth.
Classic Vacations was also recognized at the ceremony with the crystal award for Wholesale Partner of the Year. The company offers a full line of accommodations, transportation, and tour options ranging from mid-tier to luxury.
Melissa Krueger, Director of Sales at Classic Vacations, accepted the award. “It is an honor to be recognized by members of this organization,” she said, “and we look forward to many more years of successful partnership.”
In the luxury category, Crystal Cruises took home the honor of Luxury Cruise Line Partner of the Year.
The line has created a full portfolio of agent resources to assist professionals build their business. There is a dedicated team of Strategic Business Development Managers available globally as well as user-friendly training modules, seminars, webinars, videos and other selling tools. The CruiseBuilder booking tool ensures agents are up to date and are able to efficiently serve their clients.
Perhaps the most prestigious award was given to A.J. (Rick) Mazza for Lifetime Achievement. Unlike the other awards, this honor is not given annually. Instead recipients are recommended by ASTA’s board of directors to honor someone, “whose creativity, dedication and inspiration have advanced the travel and tourism industry.”
Mazza is president and CEO, and founder of American Marketing Group (AMG), the parent company of 19 travel brands and three agency networks (TRAVELSAVERS, NEST, and the Affluent Traveler Collection). Mazza also co-founded the American Travel Affairs Council (ATAC).
He began his career 50 years ago as a travel agent and owner of a successful travel agency in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY.
After 9/11, Mazza aided in an industry-wide campaign to jump start the travel industry once again. He has been given numerous awards and honors throughout his career for his work and dedication to the travel industry.
Previous 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).
Next year’s ASTA Global Convention will take place August 21-28 in Washington DC at the Washington Hilton.