Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: July 12, 2004

ASTA IS HOPING to attract at-home agents to its World Travel Congress in Hong Kong, with several events planned for the home-based/independent agent. The congress, being held Sept. 28 to Oct. 3 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center, will feature seminars such as "Being a Home-Based Travel Professional -- Issues, Answers and Opportunities," "How to Position Your Web Site," "Marketing on a Shoestring Budget" and "Seven Steps to Closing a Sale." Joannie Ogg, the president of Nacta who is well-known among the at-home community, will lead some of the seminars.

ASTA TWO YEARS AGO created a membership for at-homes and independents, called the Travel Professional category. Liz Culkin, ASTA's vp-meetings, conventions and trade shows, told TravelWeekly.com that 2,100 home-based agents have joined ASTA. "The category is growing rapidly, as many brick-and-mortar members are taking their business home," she said. The registration cost for the Hong Kong congress is $299; non-members add $75. ASTA said 14 airlines are offering special fares to Hong Kong, including Continental and United. Hotel reservations can be made through ASTA's hotel booking system. For more details on the program, including industry speakers and post-congress fam trips, visit www.astanet.com.

THE TRAVEL INSTITUTE rolled out its Accessible Travel Lifestyle Specialist course, the second in a series of nine new courses planned for this year. The curriculum, which was written in collaboration with Roberta Schwartz, director of education for the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality, covers the size and scope of the market, the proper etiquette for serving travelers with disabilities, and what to look for in assessing various modes of transportation, lodging, destinations and attractions.

TWO LEVELS of Lifestyle Specialist designations are offered for each curriculum segment, the institute said. By passing a standardized test, travel professionals will earn a specialist designation for that niche. Those specialists then have an opportunity to become certified specialists by demonstrating advanced knowledge through relevant business experience in that segment. This two-level structure applies to each of the nine courses being launched this year. The specialist program for gay travel was launched a few weeks ago. Additional specialist programs still to be introduced include golf, honeymoons and spas. Enrollment information, costs and other details are on line at www.thetravelinstitute.com.

HOST AGENCY SPOTLIGHT
All About Travel

1901 Northwest Highway, Suite 104
Garland, Texas 75041
Phone: (888) 278-1441
In business since: 1978
Web site: www.ictravelhost.com and www.cwtdallas.com
Annual sales: $10 million
Cost to join: $150
Monthly fee: $27
Industry affiliations: Carlson Wagonlit Travel, CLIA, OSSN, Iatan, ARC, Passport Online.
Commission split: 80% to agent

DATEBOOK: Apple Vacations will be the topic at South New Jersey OSSN's meeting on July 26 at 6:30 p.m. The event -- being held at Bennigan's Restaurant, Route 73, South Marlton -- will feature Apple rep Kevin Martin. Cost to members is $12, including dinner, beverage, tax and tip. Non-members pay $13. RSVP to the director, Ruth Vitale, at (856) 461-4283.

FAM OF THE WEEK
Dominican Republic
Departures:
Sept. 2 or 3 and Nov. 24 from New York to Santo Domingo via Delta.
Length: Five nights.
Sponsor: Reko Tours, Astoria, N.Y.
Cost: $599 per person, double. Includes roundtrip air, all-inclusive accommodations and transfers.
Trip: Accommodations are at Santana Beach Hotel at La Romana.
Noteworthy: The companion rate is $75 additional; rates for children up to age 16 are $529. The single supplement is $145. There is a $100 surcharge for the Nov. 24 departure.
Contact: (800) 251-0230; e-mail: [email protected].

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