Meet the 2018/2019 National Director Candidates - About ASTA - ASTA

Meet the 2018/2019 National Director Candidates

Rick Ardis | Brian Chapin | Drew Daly | Besty Geiser| Lois Howes | Christy Prescott  | Art Schwartzstein   | Patricia Thorington   |


Rick  Ardis  

Title: Owner/agent
Agency Name:  Ardis Travel
City, State   East Rutherford, NJ
Telephone:  201-939-9135
Email: rick@ardistravel.com

Agency Information and Involvement

Number of Years in the Travel Agency Business:  35+ Years

Time Currently Spent on Agency Business:  

Full Time (35 hours or more)  X___  Part Time _____

Agency Related Responsibilities:  Sales and Management

Agency Consortium Affiliation, if any:  Travel Leaders Network Member & Nexion affiliated agent

ASTA National and Chapter Involvement 

Years of ASTA Membership:  34

Chapter: New Jersey ASTA (includes Hudson Valley & Upstate New York)

Chapter Positions Held: 

  • Current Immediate Past President & Treasurer President 2008-2012 & 2014
  • First Vice president 2006-2008
  • Programs/Trade Show Chairman
  • Legislative/ ASTAPAC Chairman
  • Membership Chairman

National Positions Held: 

  • Chapter Presidents Council
  • ASMI Committee
  • Education Committee
  • Premium Business Summit/ ASTA Global Convention
  • agenty Board Member
  • Current Member ASTA Board of Directors

Other Service and Participation: ASTA Hotel Committee Member, Supporter of annual ASTA South Florida conference.

Other Leadership Roles

    • New Jersey Travel Industry Professional Society (TIPS)
    • President 1992-1994
    • First Vice-president Various Committees
    • Arline Hantman Memorial Award Recipient 1997
    • Meadowlands Regional Chamber
    • Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau Tourism agenty Council
    • Travel News Source for The Record Newspaper of Hackensack and (former) RKO Radio Network
    • Northern New Jersey SKAL Club Member
    • Campaign Statement

I have been involved in the travel industry for most of my life. As a second generation travel agent, I have witnessed the metamorphosis of our industry over the last five decades. My mother began in the industry as a home-based business around 1965. Together, she and I opened Ardis Travel’s storefront agency in 1981.

Upon opening our agency, I joined the American Society of Travel agents as soon as possible. At that time it meant the agency would have to wait three years before we could apply. Back then if you wanted to be viewed as a professional in the travel industry you were expected to join ASTA. Since 1984 I have always been a member of ASTA and as active as possible in the New Jersey Chapter.

I truly believe that everyone in this industry should be a member of the American Society of Travel agents. Therefore, ASTA needs to balance the needs and welfare of the large travel management companies and host agencies, as well as, traditional travel agencies and independent advisors. Our consortia partners have assisted us by encouraging or requiring their members to join ASTA, but there still are goals to be accomplished.

A fuller membership base will further empower the American Society of Travel agents to Protect, Promote and Educate the members. Travel professionals not only need to be members, but fully involved members. There is a need for greater participation in ASTAPac so that we can have a stronger voice in preventing rulings and laws that can harm our livelihood. ASTA events should once again be THE ones to not miss.

If re-elected, I will strive to continue to work with the other members of ASTA’s Board of Directors and staff to emphasize membership in ASTA as the ultimate badge of professionalism within the travel industry. We have made great strides in these past two years expanding member and conducting quality events. ASTA’s future looks bright. I therefore, humbly ask for your support as I seek re-election to an At-Large position on the ASTA Board of Directors allowing me to continue to work for you.

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Brian Chapin

Title:   Senior Director Air & Travel Solutions
Agency Name: Ensemble Travel Group
City, State    Chicago, IL
Telephone:  312-951-7494
Email: bchapin@ensembletravel.com

Agency Information and Involvement

Number of Years in the Travel Agency Business: 16 Years (34 Total years in the Travel Industry)

Time Currently Spent on Agency Business:  

Full Time (35 hours or more) X        Part Time _____

Agency Related Responsibilities:  Oversee and grow North American Air & GDS relationships for Ensemble Travel Group’s 850-member travel agencies.  Educate member agents on the value and earning potential of selling air.

Agency Consortium Affiliation, if any: Ensemble Travel Group

ASTA National and Chapter Involvement 

Years of ASTA Membership: 10

Chapter:  Midwest

Chapter Positions Held: N/A

National Positions Held:  N/A

Other Service and Participation:

      • agenty Committees for the 2016 , 2017 & 2018 Premium Meetings and Global Conventions;
      • Participated in 2016, 2017 & 2018 ASTA Legislative Days and 2016 Legislative Day Video;
      • Currently serve on ASTA Consumer Awareness, Government Affairs and ASTA PAC Committees.

Other Leadership Roles

      • Facilitator, workshop leader, and trainer for Ensemble members on air and technology solutions
      • Media spokesperson for Ensemble Travel Group on certain industry issues
      • Air New Zealand North American agenty Board
      • Norwegian Air agenty Board
      • Member of oversight committee for Activity, Spa and Fitness Center for Home Owners Association of 800+ homes.
      • Certified Spinning Instructor
      • Previous Home Owner Association Director

Campaign Statement

ASTA’s growth and evolution has been extraordinary over the past few years with membership increasing and record attendance at ASTA events.  As a member of the board I will work with ASTA staff, other members of the Board and the membership to continue to promote the importance of ASTA and all that it does to support and elevate the role of the Travel agent.

One of the greatest ways ASTA supports Travel agents is through advocacy.  ASTA’s advocacy efforts on Federal and State levels have earned us a seat at the table with our elected officials.  I’m passionate about ASTA’s advocacy work and have been a proud and enthusiastic participant at every opportunity and will continue to be in the future.

I’m excited about the recent growth in ASTA chapters, the creation of the VTA program and ASTA’s increased exposure in the media. As a member of the Board I would continue to support all of these initiatives, as well as others to help promote the role of Travel agent.

I began my industry career as a Travel agent and throughout my 30+ years in the industry have worked to support that profession.  My agency experiences along with airline, GDS and consortia background will allow me to assist in broadening ASTA’s reach.

ASTA is the only organization where all members of the travel community can come together to advance the professionalism of our industry and communicate our message regardless of competition, business model, or consortia affiliation. As your representative, I will use my broad industry experience, relationships and perspectives to work with the Board and ASTA staff to ensure your voices and views are heard.

I ask for your vote and your support.  Together we can all help ASTA continue to grow and prosper in the future.

Thank you.

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Drew Daly

Title:  General Manager of Network Engagement & Performance
Agency Name: CruiseOne/Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc.
City, State   Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Telephone:  954-958-3614
Email:    ddaly@wth.com 

Agency Information and Involvement

Number of Years in the Travel Agency Business:  23

Time Currently Spent on Agency Business:  

Full Time (35+ hours or more) __X__  Part Time _____

Agency Related Responsibilities:  My career started as a travel agent 23 years ago and I now oversee the sales, marketing, training, business development support and engagement for World Travel Holdings’ 1,100 franchisees and roughly 500 independent vacation specialists. 

Agency Consortium Affiliation, if any: WTH

ASTA National and Chapter Involvement

Years of ASTA Membership:  6

Chapter:  South Florida

Chapter Positions Held: None

National Positions Held: None YET      

Other Service and Participation:

      • ASTA Government & Political Affairs Committee
      • ASTA Independent Advisor agenty Committee

Other Leadership Roles

      • Chairman of the CLIA’s Strategic Trade agenty and Review Board
      • Board of Director for the Professional Association of Travel Hosts (PATH)
      • Executive Leadership Broward 2017

Campaign Statement

My personal commitment is to serve as an ASTA board member in the same way I do today within the travel agent community and industry.  Being in the travel industry for 23 years and with travel being in my DNA, I am confident that I can be a significant contributor and voice for elevating the travel agent profile both within and outside of the industry.I will work hard to collaborate with other ASTA members and ensure that all pertinent issues related to the industry are addressed.  In addition, I would work to ensure travel agents stay relevant and top of mind for anyone in the consuming public.

I believe it is important for members of the ASTA board to apply their leadership, relationships and networks to influence the branding of travel agents. Ultimately, every ASTA member should be equipped with the best tools to successfully promote what they do and share their value. I am passionate when it comes to any initiative that promotes the value of a travel agent and I will work with the board to find new and innovative ways to continue to elevate the role a travel agent provides.

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Betsy  Geiser

Dave Hershberger
Title: Vice President
Agency Name:Uniglobe Travel Center
City, State    Irvine, CA
Telephone:    949-623-6586
Email:  bgeiser@uniglobetravel.com

Agency Information and Involvement

Number of Years in the Travel Agency Business:  19

Time Currently Spent on Agency Business:  

Full Time (35 hours or more)  X___  Part Time _____

Agency Related Responsibilities:   Oversee Host Agency

Agency Consortium Affiliation, if any: Ensemble

ASTA National and Chapter Involvement 

Years of ASTA Membership:  8

Chapter:  Orange County

Chapter Positions Held:  Chapter President/ Past President

National Positions Held:   Director-at-Large

Other Service and Participation:

      • Corporate agenty Council (CAC)
      • ASTA Consumer Awareness Committee

Other Leadership Roles:

      • Vice President Professional Association of Travel Hosts (PATH)
      • Starboard-CLIA
      • Globus agenty Board

Campaign Statement

I have been honored to serve on the ASTA Board of Directors for the last two years (thank you).  During this period, we have had a very cohesive Board; We have watched membership grow, agents get more involved and the Chapter System revitalized with new chapters.  ASTA has become “The New ASTA” and with a strong Board and staff leadership we will continue is this direction with renewed interest from both agents and suppliers alike.

As an ASTA member I have touted the benefits of membership to both my network of agents, my consortium and anyone that is willing to listen.  I have served on the local Chapter Board for the past 7 years, two of which I was Chapter President. My IC network membership has almost doubled in the last three years and many are involved in their chapters, two of our members are currently Chapter Presidents. In 2017 we won ASTA’s Host Agency of the year award for membership growth and engagement.

We have a wonderful industry, one that allows us the ability to make dreams come true and travel the world. We need to stand together to protect it and keep it strong, with ASTA advocating and fighting our fights we will be able to for a long time to come.

A little about me; I am a runner, reader and love my ‘me’ time.    I have a dog and two cats and a wonderful husband. I am passionate about my work and love our industry. I have only had two jobs during my 37- year work life.

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Lois Howes

Title:  Travel Professional / Past President Long Island ASTA
Agency Name: Superior Travel
City, State   Oceanside, NY
Telephone:  516-457-2028
Email:    logo.away@yahoo.com    

Agency Information and Involvement

Number of Years in the Travel Agency Business:  30

Time Currently Spent on Agency Business:  

Full Time (35+ hours or more) __X__  Part Time _____

Agency Related Responsibilities: Service my leisure and corporate clients

Agency Consortium Affiliation, if any:  Travelsavers

ASTA National and Chapter Involvement

Years of ASTA Membership:  27

Chapter:  Long Island ASTA

Chapter Positions Held: AMSI chair, Secretary, V.P (1st and 2nd), President

National Positions Held: Director  2011-2013

Other Service and Participation:

      • Communications Committee
      • Special Projects Committee
      • Chapter Viability Committee
      • Chapter President Mentor

Other Leadership Roles

      • Board Director- Long Island Arts Council at Freeport
      • President- Freeport Chamber of Commerce
      • President-Friends of Freeport
      • Representative to the Nassau County Council of Chambers
      • Networking Committee for NY State Senator Brooks

Campaign Statement

If you didn't notice, ASTA is on a roll these days! Everywhere you look ASTA is quoted in articles related to our business. Now my good friends who are Independent Advisors (IC's) are able to join ASTA at an affordable price and play valuable leadership roles in the ASTA chapters. When I was previously on the National Board of Directors I pushed for changes to increase our visibility in the general public and to open the doors to IC's and encourage more to join at the Premium level. ASTA is an organization that represents us all but sadly less than 25% choose to join. I want to get back on the Board of Directors so that I can contribute my expertise in increasing our numbers at all membership levels.

I have the passion and can make the commitment to do what is necessary to ensure that ASTA remains at the forefront of the travel industry, that it makes a mark that truly is recognized, and that can carry our industry well into the future while recognizing the strides we made in the past. I have the experience, drive and perseverance to make things happen. I ask for your vote so I can continue the work begun on the Chapter President's Council and ensure that our Chapters as well as our Association are the very best they can be.   I would be honored to serve as one of your National Directors.

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Christy Prescott

Pamela
Title: CEO/Owner
Agency Name:  Corporate Travel Planners, Inc DBA Rennert Travel
City, State     San Antonio, TX
Telephone:     (210)366-4450
Email:  Christy@ctptravelservices.com

Agency Information and Involvement

Number of Years in the Travel Agency Business:  26

Time Currently Spent on Agency Business:  

Full Time (35 hours or more)  X___  Part Time _____

Agency Related Responsibilities: 

Responsible for the overall success of the organization through high level corporate strategy & decisions; public face of the organization through communication with industry professionals during board meetings, vendor relations, and community outreach; creator and driving force of company’s vision and mission; evaluator of the work by executive leaders including president and vice presidents; responsible for maintaining awareness of the competitive landscape, expansion opportunities, markets, industry development, etc; assessor of risks to the company and ensuring the they are monitored and minimized; responsible for setting strategic goals and measuring/describing goals effectively.

Agency Consortium Affiliation, if any: Travel Leaders Network

ASTA National and Chapter Involvement 

Years of ASTA Membership:  3 Years

Chapter:  Greater Austin

Chapter Positions Held:  N/A

National Positions Held:   N/A

Other Service and Participation: None

Other Leadership Roles

Christy currently serves as a board member of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, Family Violence and Prevention Services, Christy’s Hope for Battered Women & Children and CTP/Rennert Travel: In addition to being a past board member of the University of Incarnate Word, Greater Chamber of Commerce, PDAP, Delta Air Lines agenty Board, North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Lone Star Capital Bank and Wachovia Bank.

Campaign Statement

I welcome an opportunity to contribute to the work of ASTA in a leadership position. Rennert Travel is a fairly new member to ASTA (member since 2015); however, our organization is firmly established within the industry with over 26 years. If elected, I would bring to this position the knowledge I have gained in various leadership roles outside ASTA. I have served as the leader of my company (more than

$160 million in sales for 2017) since its inception and have provided leadership on a variety of significant industry and community-wide committees. I have a strong commitment to nurturing collaborative relationships. If elected as a Board Member for ASTA, I would use my leadership experience and expertise to initiate an exploration of the ways ASTA may best meet the needs and recognize the contributions of travel professionals across their careers.

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Olga M. Ramudo

Title:  President & CEO
Agency Name: Express Travel
City, State  AlhambraCircle, Suite 501
Telephone:  (305) 341-1200 ext 227
Email: oramudo@expresstravelus.com

Agency Information and Involvement

Number of Years in the Travel Agency Business:  29

Time Currently Spent on Agency Business:  

Full Time (35+ hours or more) __X__  Part Time _____

Agency Related Responsibilities: Building the business from a start up to becoming one of the top women owned businesses in the State of Florida.  Currently, responsible for day to day management and operations, sales and community involvement

Agency Consortium Affiliation, if any: Signature Travel Network

Agency Consortium Affiliation, if any: N/A

ASTA National and Chapter Involvement

Years of ASTA Membership:  16

Chapter:  South Florida

Chapter Positions Held: None

National Positions Held: ASTA National Director at Large 2016-2018  

Other Service and Participation:

      • Involved in Advocacy receiving the Barbara O’Hare Award in 2009
      • ASTA Pac contributor
      • ASTA Travel agent of the Year 2011

Other Leadership Roles

      • Department of Commerce’s Travel and Tourism agenty Board
      • Department of Commerce’s District Export Council – South Florida
      • Board of Directors - Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce
      • Member worldwide International Women’s Forum organization
      • Member NAWBO – National Organization of Women Business Owners

Campaign Statement

My introduction to the travel agency industry was joining a very small travel agency as an independent advisor on a very part time basis while at the same  time raising a family. The business soon grew much more than expected.  Partnering with my sister and a best friend, Express Travel was incorporated in the State of Florida in 1989.  I am passionate about our industry, and would be proud to be elected for a second term as director at large and contribute to the great job ASTA does representing and defending the travel agency community.

Becoming a business owner and facing numerous industry changes, was challenging, something that many can identify with.  However, adapting and accepting change while managing growth, the company grew to be one of the top women businesses in the State of Florida and one of the largest Hispanic companies in the nation. Diversification of products to include corporate, vacation, cruise, study abroad and meetings and incentives departments, balanced our business to experience success even in difficult times.

My motto is not only to sell service, but most importantly to provide trust. This is why many of our customers have been with our company for more than 15 years; they are confident that we will always do the best for them.  Relationships are very important for me, always trying to cultivate and nurture customers and suppliers.

Not forgetting the importance of our community, I am very much involved in numerous organizations (listed above) and am proud to be a contributor to the promotion and growth of the South Florida tourism community. My greatest source of pride is our staff, a dedicated group of professionals; some of them part of the Express Travel family since our beginnings in 1989. Passion and protection of our industry, understanding that we need to be profitable above all, and being confident of the value that the travel agency community provides, is what I place the greatest importance on.

I would like to assist ASTA in getting that message out as well as supporting them in their great Advocacy efforts to protect our industry while at the same time provide an understanding of the impact that the travel and tourism industry has on the economy and job creation.

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Art Schwartzstein    

LanotteDay
Title:  Owner
Agency Name:  Barristers Travel Group LLC
City, State      Chevy Chase, MD
Telephone:   (301)882-8900
Email:  Art@BarristersTravel.com

Agency Information and Involvement

Number of Years in the Travel Agency Business:  4

Time Currently Spent on Agency Business:  

Full Time (35 hours or more)  X___  Part Time _____

Agency Related Responsibilities:   Travel Agency Owner

Agency Consortium Affiliation, if any: Nexion

ASTA National and Chapter Involvement 

Years of ASTA Membership:  2

Chapter:  Central Atlantic

Chapter Positions Held: N/A

National Positions Held: N/A 

Other Service and Participation:  N/A

Other Leadership Roles: N/A

Campaign Statement

As an independent, credentialed, full-time travel agent, I have found that the current commission system is broken. All too frequently new and hobbyist travel agents, with little or no experience, are offered commission rates of the highest producers just by joining a host agency (receiving 15% to 30% and even more). Meanwhile, independent advisors, regardless of expertise or credentials, too often get paid 10%.

Suppliers tend to reward host agencies for volume, while disregarding the invaluable knowledge, accreditations and certifications of independents. To the independent, a commission of only 10% means a reduction in the ability to compete with the host agencies and with Costco, the elephant in the room.

The unanswered question as to where the 6% (or more) goes, that is above what independents earn, seems to be tempting suppliers to discount the value that all travel agents bring to the table, as evidenced by the recent moves by major hoteliers.

Our profession asks agents to take educational courses and achieve “certificates,” whether from The Travel Institute, CLIA, ASTA, cruise lines, and others. Why then is it that the suppliers do not value the very certificates they are trying to ask the agents to obtain? Surely, certifications help the travel agent better meet the needs of his/ her clients due to their specialized knowledge.

ASTA stands for the American Society of Travel agents, not the American Society of Travel Agencies. We have allowed the agencies to set an agenda for the ASTA board that does not prioritize addressing the issues of fair and competitive commissions. We need more directors who focus on protecting our independents, as well as also caring for hosts and consortia, which is why I am asking for your vote.

Independent advisor need to be better recognized, respected and commissioned. Compensation should be adjusted to recognize certifications, such as CLIA, The Travel Institute, and ASTA and the experience and investment by agents with credentials, such as IATA, IATAN, EMBARC and TRUE cards.

Please vote for me to emphasize the need of our organization, ASTA, to spearhead the representation of all travel agents and to advocate for fair and properly allocated compensation.

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Patricia Thorington

Title:  Manager
Agency Name: Plaza Travel
City, State  Encino, CA
Telephone:  (818) 990-4053
Email:   Patty@plazatravel.com

Agency Information and Involvement

Number of Years in the Travel Agency Business:  35

Time Currently Spent on Agency Business:  

Full Time (35+ hours or more) __X__  Part Time _____

Agency Related Responsibilities:

I am a Front Line Booking agent; I oversee sales, training, agent support and engagement to all new agents.

Agency Consortium or Host Agency Affiliation, if any:  Signature Travel Network, BCD

Agency Consortium Affiliation, if any:  Signature Travel Network, BCD

ASTA National and Chapter Involvement

Years of ASTA Membership:  34

Chapter:  SoCal ASTA

Chapter Positions Held: Secretary/Treasurer  Currently Vice President

National Positions Held: N/A  

Other Leadership Roles

Millennials and Mentors Chair

Campaign Statement

For the past 25 years I have been working at Plaza Travel. During my time at Plaza Travel I have held many positions and have dedicated myself to insuring we remain one of the strongest, most admired and most enjoyable places to work.  Currently I manage and provide back up for our extensive network of Independent advisors across the country.  I am the go to person in the office for assistance, direction and support.  My experience and knowledge in the travel industry make me a valuable resource for our staff.

I have been an active member on the SOCAL ASTA for the past four years, and currently hold the position of Vice President. Additionally I chair the Millennials and Mentors program created by SOCAL ASTA. I am excited about all the growth opportunities of mentoring these new agents and sharing with them the importance and value of ASTA from the very beginning of their career.

I represent the travel industry and Plaza Travel in my networking group Networking Plus, a nonprofit networking group in the San Femando Valley that helps out local charities with constant donations.

lf l have the honor of being nominated as National Director, I will bring the same enthusiasm, tenacity and perseverance that I have now for our SOCAL ASTA Board, to National ASTA, and look forward to working with all the board members and ASTA to continue to make things happen for our industry. Being a part of the Plaza Travel family affords me the added experience and exposure of numerous types of travel industry models. Our main office in Encino has over 40 staff, we also have remote branches, virtual employees, a call center, and a new to industry brand.

My experience, dedication and passion to make things happen, and make them better for everyone makes me a great candidate for a National Director.

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