Alexandria, Va., May 21, 2008 -ASTA announced today that 600 specialist certificates were awarded to travel agents who received destination training such as the France Destination Specialist Course and in niche markets such as European Rail Travel, France Soft Adventure and Western European Culinary Travel while attending the International Destination Expo (IDE) in Lyon France (April 12-16, 2008). The IDE is designed to immerse travel agents in the culture, attractions and travel business of each year's chosen destination. Included in the program of this year's event was an open-floor trade show, one-on-one business meetings with suppliers, product seminars, networking events and sightseeing.
"Nothing can beat first-hand experience when it comes to selling a destination," said Cheryl Hudak, CTC, ASTA's president and CEO. "Networking with local professionals helps travel agents gain an in-depth understanding of a region's culture and environment, as well establishing partnerships with niche suppliers they otherwise might not have met."
Certificates from this year's IDE were awarded in the following areas: European Rail Travel; France Soft Adventure; France Destination Specialist; Lyon, Beaujolais Countryside and Rhône Alps; Western European Cruise and River Barging; Western European Culinary Travel; Western European Honeymoons; and Western European Mature Adult Travel. A list of recently announced Destination Specialists from this year's event can be found at TravelSense.org.
Travel agents who completed destination certifications were provided with customizable press releases for their use in promoting their new specialties to their local media and communities. Additionally, they will be offered a complimentary 1-year membership in the Specialty Travel Agents Association.
Of the educational seminars, attendees had this to say:
ASTA's IDE is an annual gathering of travel industry professionals, seeking to immerse themselves in the culture, food and sightseeing of a unique destination, with the purpose of educating their clients about the region. The IDE provides destination-focused seminars and certifications, as well as opportunities for travel agents to build a business network with local suppliers. More than 1,000 travel professionals from 47 countries gathered in Lyon to learn about the culture, attractions and travel business of the city often referred to as "the gateway to Europe."
In addition to classroom training, exhibitors conducted product seminars to give agents an opportunity to learn about the latest travel industry products and services. There were additional pre- and post-tours of everything from Perouges, Beaujolais, Lake Annecy, Côte Rôtie Vineyards, Vienne and other destinations.
The fourth IDE will be held in Sun City, South Africa, March 8-11, 2009, where agents will receive specialist training in South Africa destinations and other neighboring countries. For more information or to register, go to ASTA.org/events.
ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally based members, it is the leading global advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the traveling public. ASTA’s history of travel industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information, visit ASTA.org.
ASTA’s sister association, The National Association of Career Travel Agents, represents a professional community of independent travel agents ready to assist the traveling public.