|Meredith Hill, Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) and Gifted Travel Network|
The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) recognized its top travel agents and suppliers last month at the ASTA Global Convention (AGC) in Reno Tahoe, NV. ASTA awarded frontline travel agents and agency owners who go above and beyond in caring for their customers, and for the first time ASTA travel professionals voted on the top agent-friendly suppliers.
The top award for agents every year is the ASTA Extra Mile Award. Sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car this year, the award recognizes a travel agent who has gone the extra mile in the last 12 months to provide exceptional service for a client in a new and creative way that goes above and beyond the normal course of business. Melissa Truskett of Montrose Travel in Montrose, CA, was recognized for her extraordinary work to urgently relocate members of her community in wake of a major gas leak which forced hundreds of residents from their homes. Between December of 2015 and May of 2016, Melissa worked with her fellow agents at Montrose travel and with hotels in the greater Los Angeles area to find lodging for more than 1,000 families.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award is given annually to an individual or company within the travel and hospitality industry who has made a significant contribution to furthering entrepreneurship in the industry. Gloria Bohan, president and CEO of Omega World Travel, presented the 2016 ASTA Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Meredith Hill of the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) and Gifted Travel Network (GTN). The award recognized Hill’s innovative spirit in the creation of GIFTE, a community where travel professionals can learn how to build successful travel businesses, and her entrepreneurial spirit in founding GTN, a host agency which helps travel professionals build their own brands and provides ongoing entrepreneurial education. As part of the award, she will receive a $10,000 prize from the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation.
A noticeable change in this year's awards program in Reno included the addition of individual supplier awards that were given to companies that recognized the agency community for the value they provide, as voted on by the ASTA membership. In addition to an overall Allied Member of the Year (awarded to Amadeus North America, Inc.) and Allied Member Representative of the Year (presented to Chris Austin, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.), supplier awards were given to the following companies:
- Domestic Airline of the Year: United Airlines
- International Airline of the Year: Emirates
- Cruise Line of the Year: Norwegian Cruise Line
- River Cruise Company of the Year: AmaWaterways
- Hotel Company of the Year: Marriott
- International Tour Operator of the Year: Globus Family of Brands
- Wholesaler of the Year: Travel Impressions
- GDS of the Year: Sabre
- Travel Insurance Company of the Year: Travel Guard
- Car Rental Company of the Year: Enterprise Holdings
Several additional awards were presented over the course of the conference, including:
- International Chapter Participation Award: Nigeria Chapter
- International Chapter of the Year Award: Kenya Chapter
- Chapter of the Year Award: Mid America Chapter
- Chapter of the Year Runner-Up Award: New York City Chapter
- Young Professional Award of the Year Award: Csilla Dali
- Host Agency of the Year Award: Nexion