June 28, 2016
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is pleased to announce the call for nominations for the ASTA 2016 Extra Mile Award. The Extra Mile Award is given to a travel agent who, in the last 12 months, has performed exceptional service for a client in a new and creative way that goes above and beyond the normal course of business. Nominated by their peers or by consumers, the Extra Mile Award is the top award of the year for travel agents. This year, the award will be presented at the ASTA Global Convention 2016 in Reno Tahoe, September 25 -28.
“Travel agents do extraordinary things for their clients every day,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. “The stories we receive for our Extra Mile Award highlight the trust consumers place in the travel agency community and that time and time again, agents deliver.”
All travel agents are eligible to be nominated. Nominations can be made by individuals, organizations, even agents themselves. The entry deadline is July 15, 2016. To nominate an outstanding travel agent, go to:
Prior Winners – Shelly Reister and Hollie Schmitt
Last year’s winner, Shelly Reister, had a client who was a deaf teacher who had returned to work after retirement to help support the family. She lived with her elderly parents and was caring for four young children. She wanted to take them on a Disney trip, but was on a strict budget.
The client made payments every month but when it came time to pay the balance, she was $792 short. But Shelly, saying she knows it goes against everything she is supposed to do, paid for the rest of the trip herself saying, “All I could think about was how every day at my house is Disney World for my own daughter. I believe you can’t help everybody, but you can help somebody.”
But she didn’t stop there. Shelly then threw in a $50 gas card and learned a few words of sign language to bid farewell.
Hollie Schmitt, the 2014 winner, saved the day for an entire bridal party headed to Jamaica for a Destination Wedding. Hollie, in addition to being a travel agent, is the mother of 6, lives on a dairy farm, and also drives a school bus.
The main bridal party, consisting of 24 people, was scheduled to leave out of Milwaukee. Hollie received a call from the airline at 11:30 pm the night before their flight, informing her of a three-hour delay. The group only had a 1.5-hour layover, so she knew she would have to do something to ensure they made their connection to Jamaica.
She immediately called the airline, explained the situation and secured 24 seats on a flight out of Chicago O’Hare, allowing them to make their connection. Hollie originally had a bus lined up to take the wedding party to the Milwaukee airport at 3 a.m., but with the change, they would now need to leave at 1 a.m. to get to Chicago. Hollie tried to reach the bus company to change the time, but was unsuccessful.
So Hollie took her own bus and prepared it for the trip to Chicago O’Hare. She met the bridal party at the bride’s home and loaded them all onto the bus. A few of the clients were a bit confused because they knew Hollie was their travel agent and couldn’t believe she would be driving the bus to take them to the airport. Hollie drove her group the two hours to Chicago, assisted them with check-in to ensure everything was taken care of, then hopped back on her school bus and got home just in time to drive her morning route. That is most definitely the ultimate definition of a full-service travel agent.
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its 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, ASTA’s history of 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 about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.