ASTA wrapped its Global Convention this week at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina. The event brought hundreds of travel professionals together from August 27 – 29, where they had a chance to meet over 200 suppliers, take part in over 19 educational sessions and hear from over 75 travel industry leaders. Here’s a look at the top news from the event.
The event marked the announcement of the new Verified Travel Advisor (VTA) certification. Travel agents who complete the nine-course program within 12 months will be able to use the designation. Because an important part of the certification is agreeing to abide by ASTA’s Code of Ethics, agents will be required to maintain ASTA membership in order to maintain the certification.
ASTA said it plans to promote the new designation to consumers starting soon, as part of a six-figure awareness campaign which has also seen contributions by the organization’s chapter presidents and Carnival Cruise Line.
The event also gave ASTA the chance to honor its top partners and travel agents. Notable winners included Carnival Corporation, AmaWaterways and Crystal in cruise and Classic Vacations in wholesale. Additionally, A.J. (Rick) Mazza, founder of American Marketing Group (AMG), received ASTA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. AMG is the parent company of 19 travel brands and three agency networks: TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and the Affluent Traveler Collection.
Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald offered insights into key issues affecting the travel industry, including the catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey and Carnival’s response. Donald also talked what’s ahead for Cuba cruises, as well as the thinking behind commission policies.