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At the beginning of May, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) hosted a successful Global Convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they welcomed over 500 travel advisors and almost 900 total attendees.

The Global Convention serves as the society's annual awards show, in addition to offering attendees a packed general session program, educational breakout sessions, local entertainment, tour opportunities and chances for networking with fellow travel professionals.

During the society's annual Advocacy Dinner—which raised over $325,000 for ASTA's advocacy and political efforts—attendees saw the recognition of frontline travel advisors and agency owners who go above and beyond in caring for their customers, as well as those suppliers most supportive of the trade and its broader advocacy efforts, as voted on by ASTA members.

"The overarching message of this convention has been that our organization and our wider industry are in an incredible position of strength—that is a credit to our staff, board, members and supplier partners," said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby, who is celebrating 10 years at ASTA's helm. "We're pleased to use the occasion of our annual convention to celebrate the many in our community who selflessly invest their time and their efforts in support of the entire industry."

In addition to numerous supplier and partnership awards, those who were honored included:

  • ASTA Lifetime Achievement Award: Frank Del Rio, Norwegian Cruise Lines
  • Paul Ruden Industry Ambassador Award: Roger Block, Travel Leaders Network
  • Barbara O'Hara Advocacy Award: Rick Ardis, Ardis Travel
  • John Haskins Chapter Advocacy Award: ASTA Mid-Michigan Chapter
  • Partner Company of the Year; Partner Representative of the Year; Supplier Medal of Excellence: Kristin Karst and AmaWaterways
  • Robert L. Duglin Chapter Excellence Award: New York City Small Business Network Chapter
  • George "Eddie" Woodham Chapter President of the Year Award: Kyle Bohman, Central Florida Chapter
  • 2023 Entrepreneur of the Year: Cabana

In addition to the awards, ASTA recently announced the Executive Committee of the 2023-2024 ASTA Board of Directors, whose two-year terms began at the conclusion of the convention.


  • Chair – Jackie Friedman, President, Nexion Travel Group
  • Vice Chair/Secretary – Lee Thomas, COO, ALTOUR; President, Business Travel & The Travel Authority
  • Treasurer – Kelly Bergin, CEO, Duglin Travel Group
  • Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) Chair - Kathy Bedell, SVP, BCD Travel

"It's an incredible honor to be the new chair for the ASTA Board of Directors," said Friedman. "My sincere thanks go to Marc Casto for his leadership over the past two terms, and I am excited to work with this tremendous group of travel professionals."


  • Kathy Bedell, SVP, BCD Travel – CAC Chair
  • Deb Belchak, President, Lazy Dayz Travel - Regional Director
  • Kelly Bergin, CEO, Duglin Travel Group – Treasurer
  • Marc Casto, President Leisure Americas, Flight Centre Travel Group – Director-at-Large
  • Jackie Friedman, President, Nexion Travel Group - Chair
  • Kareem George, Principal; Founder, Culture Traveler, LLC – Director-at-Large
  • Robert Hale, COO, Travel N Relax Inc – Regional Director
  • Tiffany Hines, President & CEO, Global Escapes – Director-at-Large
  • Pamela Irwin, Vice President of Sales, ATB Travel – Director-at-Large
  • Amanda Klimak, President/Co-Owner, Largay Travel - CAC Director
  • Anita Pagliasso, Vice President of Industry Relations, KHM Travel Group – Director-at-Large
  • Shelly Phillips, Owner, Travel By That Girl - Regional Director
  • Rhonda Shumway, President, TerraMar Travel - Small Business Network Director
  • Lee Thomas, COO, ALTOUR; President, Business Travel & The Travel Authority - Vice Chair/Secretary
  • John Werner, President, MAST Travel Network - Consortium Director

See American Society of Travel Advisors for more.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.


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