ORLANDO -- Travel Agent was on site for the official kickoff of the American Society of Travel Agents' (ASTA) first "THETRADESHOW: Travel Retailing and Destination Expo" Sunday as travel industry representatives from around the world gathered at the Orange County Convention Center.

Cheryl Hudak Sworn in as New ASTA President
Before more than 600 exhibitors set up shop, ASTA held a morning meeting to announce its newly sworn-in elected officials as well as winners of its annual awards. Kathryn W. Sudeikis, CTC, now the former President and CEO, led off the meeting by passing the torch to Cheryl Hudak, CTC. Previously serving as national vice president, Hudak, owner of Travel Dimensions, Inc. in Boardman, OH, will now begin her year-long term as ASTA's national president. A member of ASTA since 1986, Hudak currently serves as Chair of Industry Affairs, as well as the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) Joint Advisory Board, THETRADESHOW 2006 Committee, and the Akron Canton Airport Travel Agent Advisory Board. Hudak has also served on ASTA's Budget and Finance Committee, Future Planning Committee and Tour Operators Program. Also elected were Mary Peters as Vice President/Secretary and Mike McCulloh as Treasurer.

And the Winners Are...
Rae Anne Ryan, CTC, president and owner of Travel Affiliates in Gulfport, MS, was honored with ASTA's 2006 Travel Agent of the Year Award. Ryan is the vice president of the ASTA Mississippi Chapter. She served on the Travel Agency Advisory Board of Northwest Airlines, the Biloxi/Gulfport International Advisory Board and was interviewed by Inc. magazine as one of the country's outstanding travel agency owners at ASTA's 1995 World Congress.

Kari Thomas, CTC, president of Will Travel Inc. in Langhorne, PA, was named ASTA's 2006 Young Professional. Thomas appeared in Travel Agent magazine as one of the travel industry's "100 Rising Stars" in April 1999 and June 2003. She has been a member of ASTA for the past 11 years and during this time served as chapter president from 2001 to 2005 and as a member of the board of directors from 2004 to 2005.

Bruce W. Wolff, CTC, was presented with ASTA's 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, Wolff-who joined Marriott International in 1984 as vice president, sales and marketing for the In-Flight Services division-was named executive vice president-sales and marketing programs and a corporate officer for Marriott International, where he was responsible for assisting with the strategic direction and integration of global sales, marketing and e-commerce.

Dan Hanrahan, president of Celebrity Cruises was named the Allied Member of the Year. Hanrahan previously served for six years as senior vice president of Sales and Marketing for Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International's sister brand. During that period, he repositioned the Celebrity brand to appeal to a broader, more active consumer market. Marketing campaigns under Hanrahan's oversight have earned numerous awards, including Gold and Silver EFFIES in 2001 and 2002 from the American Marketing Association, Hispanic Marketer of the Year for 2001 from the Miami Chamber of Commerce and web excellence awards from Gomez, Forbes and the Web Marketing Association (WMA). Celebrity International's web site also was named "Travel Web Site of the Year" for both 2001 and 2002 by the WMA.

Notable Announcements from the Floor
Worldspan, global travel technology leader, announced the launching of the new Worldspan Go! The new car-and-hotel booking tools give agents the option to book and sell car rentals by first shopping availability and information-or quickly "direct sell" a car. The feature includes shopping by city name, by airport or from an all-locations list. Also, a new comparison-shopping feature provides results based on price, location, car company and car company address. Also, travel agents can arrange hotel reservations quicker. The tool caters to agents who are unfamiliar with traditional GDS formats, which are replaced by point-and-click access to Worldspan's global hotel search capabilities. Agents can view property images, save hotels during a search and also save My Favorite hotel search for subsequent shopping requests. Maps and driving directions are also available. Agents can access the new tools within the Worldspan Go! Script Index and then select either Car Booking or Hotel Booking.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Board announced a handful of plans for the end of the year. In December, nonstop flights offered by JetBlue Airways will begin leaving out of Boston and flying to the San JuanAirport. Nonstop flights by Delta will leave from Atlanta and stopping at the Ponca CityRegionalAirport. In November, the Board will host six events for travel agents. From Nov. 6 to Nov. 9, the board will hold information sessions for agents in Boston, Connecticut and New York. From Nov. 20 to Nov. 30, it will hold events in New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. W Hotels, which took over the Vieques Hotel, will unveil the nearly $50 million, renovated hotel, Puerto Rico's first ever W hotel, in December of 2007.

CruiseShippers, a luggage handling service designed for cruise vacationers, announced the recent launch of its new web site tool that enables agents to purchase online. Commissions are based on volume. For more information, go to

The Alaska Travel Industry Association is launching this week new online training courses for agents. Four modules are available on the site aimed at teaching agents to become certified experts in Alaska travel.

Rent-A-Phone, which offers rented phones in more than 200 countries, offered new commission for agents who book the service. Agents will receive $25 for every phone rented to clients.


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