ASTA Kicks Off Maui Destination Showcase
PHOTO: Travel agents have the chance to visit Lanai during the Maui Destination Showcase. (Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority)
Through May 15, travel agents are immersing themselves in all things Maui – and learning how to sell it — at the American Society of Travel Agents’ (ASTA) first-ever Maui Destination Showcase.
At the Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Zane Kerby, president and CEO of ASTA, kicked off the event by highlighting the many ways that the organization is promoting travel agents this year. Several initiatives are in the works, including a new travel show focused on travel agents.
However, Kerby is specifically focusing on initiatives that put ASTA 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 commercial will be unveiled during ASTA’s Destination Expo in Seville, Spain, which is taking place 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.”
Ann Chamberlin, president of ASTA’s sister organization the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA), also welcomed NACTA and ASTA members to the showcase, which includes tours for travel agents to the isalnds of Molokai, Lanai and Maui.
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The timing of this year's showcase is particularly appropriate — 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.
For agents who want to get more details, you can visit NACTA.com. ASTA and NACTA members can take advantage of the offers.
ASTA agents hoping to learn more about Hawaii and Maui in particular were in luck. ASTA Hawaii chapter president Rodney Lao welcomed attendees and offered insider secrets to the islands. Several local Hawaii tourism officials were also on hand, 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 Oahu Visitors Bureau; Deanna Isbister, director of leisure sales of the Big Island Visitors Bureau; and Maile Brown, director of marketing of the Kauai Visitors Bureau.
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