Laura Del Rosso
Laura Del Rosso

The Leisure Travel Alliance (LTA) hired Louisa Benton as vice president, in charge of Houston-based LTA Central, the company's host agency that has 200 independent contractors as affiliates.

Benton, who held senior sales positions with Travel Impressions and Continental Airlines Vacations, worked previously with Stuart Godwin, the LTA's president and CEO, at Consolidated Travel Services.

Benton replaces Ron Sanders, who is retiring after a long industry career. Sanders owned International Tours of Houston and the I.T. Travel Institute, acquiring the companies in 1988 and selling them to the LTA in 2013. Sanders remains as LTA Central president until his retirement May 31.

Godwin said in a statement: “Ron Sanders has had a distinguished five-decade career in the travel industry and has been instrumental in helping our company establish a robust host agency program. He has served the travel agency community well, and he will be missed. At the same time, we are very fortunate, pleased and proud to have a person of Louisa's caliber to carry on Ron's work.”

The LTA, which is an Austin, Texas-based consortium of 300 agency members, was founded in 2007.

LTA Central's 200 independent contractors have access to the LTA’s marketing and preferred supplier programs. And, the LTA's consortium members have the option of joining the LTA Central host agency.

“To the greatest extent possible, our purpose is to offer all benefits and booking channel options to our combined membership base,” Godwin said in an email interview.

Under the new leadership of Benton, Godwin said operations of the host agency “will be maintained and enhanced as before. Included are booking operations, orientation and training for new agents, a robust consumer database marketing program and booking and technology tools.”

He added that LTA Central is planning to offer supplier presentations and training courses online to supplement its current schedule of supplier presentations and training at its Houston office.

“Our primary goals are to continue to provide exceptional services to our contractors and continue to grow the membership base and our preferred supplier sales,” he said.

Godwin also said that the LTA is “open to additional acquisition opportunities.”

Godwin is a veteran of industry mergers and acquisitions. He was a co-founder of Consolidated Travel Services in 1984 and served as president until 1999 when the consortium was sold to Vacation.com. He served as Vacation.com senior vice president for the central and western regions until he left that company in 2006 to start the LTA. The LTA has made acquisitions, including International Tours of Houston and another host agency that was consolidated with the Houston operation.

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