Maui, Hawaii, May 12, 2016 – Travel agents are converging on the Westin Maui Resort & Spa on Ka'anapali Beach May 11-15 for the first-ever American Society of Travel agents (ASTA) Maui Showcase, a show designed to give travel agents the opportunity to totally immerse themselves in a destination, and learn how to sell it.
ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby kicks off the show today by highlighting the many ways ASTA is promoting and defending the agency community this year. In addition to discussing ASTA's advocacy and educational endeavors, he will specifically focus on initiatives ASTA has underway to put travel agents in front of consumers, including a new commercial ASTA is producing starring Craig Sechler, an actor who has appeared on Veep with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The new video/digital commercial is slated to be unveiled at the ASTA Destination Expo at the Fibes Convention Center in Seville, Spain, June 2-5.
"We know, especially from our new consumer research, that we have moved past answering the question 'why would I use a travel agent' to answering the question 'why wouldn't I use an agent,'" said Kerby. "We now have hard evidence from independent research that shows a professional travel agent saves on average $452 per trip and four hours in planning and booking for consumers. We will be working over the next few months to shout that good news from the rooftops," he said. The new consumer study will be available on ASTA.org at the end of May.
Kerby gave special recognition to this year's hosts who made the Showcase possible—the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) in coordination with the Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau, as well as to the main sponsors—Westin Maui Resort & Spa; Starwood Hotels & Resorts; Pleasant Holidays; Enterprise Holdings and Sanya, China.
ASTA Hawaii Chapter President Rodney Lau also was on hand to welcome attendees and offer insider secrets to the islands. He was joined by several local dignitaries including Robyn Basso, Senior Director of the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau; Keith Regan, Managing Director of the County of Maui; Chris Kai'aokmalie, Director of Leisure Sales for the Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau; Julie-Ann Bicoy, Director of the Moloka'I Visitors Bureau; Les Enderton, Executive Director of the Oah'u Visitors Bureau; Deanna Isbister, Director of Leisure Sales of the Big Island Visitors Bureau; and Maile Brown, Director of Marketing of the Kaua'i Visitors Bureau. Kerby also welcomed and exchanged gifts with special guests from the Sanya Tourism Development Commission of China.
Ann Chamberlin, President of ASTA sister organization the National Association of Career Travel agents (NACTA), joined Kerby in welcoming NACTA and ASTA members to the show, which includes Island Experience Tours to Molokai, Lana'i and Maui.
The timing of this year's showcase is particularly appropriate as it falls directly in the middle of what NACTA has designated "National Travel Consultant Appreciation Month." NACTA has been working with suppliers who recognize the value of independent travel consultants, and who are giving consultants special offers during the month of May. See NACTA.com/TravelConsultantMonth for more details. ASTA's supplier partners also are giving specials to ASTA agents as well; ASTA members can check this page for special commissions and offers.
ASTA and NACTA agents will be treated to a special presentation at the conclusion of the Maui Showcase when the host of next year's ASTA/NACTA Showcase will be revealed during a special closing program. Attendees also will hear where the 2017 ASTA Global Convention will be held.
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.