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Entrepreneur of the Year Contest

The contest entry period is now closed.

Voting is now open through April 19 at 5 p.m. ET. Click here to vote

Are you passionate about your new travel endeavor? Do you have an idea that will change the travel landscape? This is a great opportunity for travel advisors, agency owners, travel technology start-ups, travel suppliers, and more! If you have a dream, we want to help you make it a reality. Three lucky finalists will appear onstage at The ASTA Travel Advisor Conference in Dallas, Texas, May 29-31, 2024, to participate in a LIVE competition to see who will win the $10,000 cash prize. Each finalist will have three minutes to make a pitch to the audience. More than 1,000 travel professionals will be watching your presentation and cast their vote to determine the winner.

 

About the Award  

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award was established in 2015 by the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation to promote the entrepreneurial spirit in the travel and hospitality industry through recognition of innovators who have either established their own businesses or who have been responsible for significant entrepreneurial initiatives within an existing organization.  Each year, the Foundation, in conjunction with ASTA staff and membership, selects one person or organization that best exemplifies this spirit of entrepreneurship to receive the Award and a $10,000 cash prize. 


"Winning ASTA Entrepreneur of the Year was a game-changing moment for Travefy that helped us grow our business significantly! Even beyond the cash prize, the exposure we received from winning the award allowed us to reach so many incredible advisors we otherwise might not have had the opportunity to. We are forever grateful to ASTA and the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation for helping Travefy reach new heights. Applying to the Entrepreneur of the Year contest is a MUST for all travel entrepreneurs that only comes with upside! If you are selected as a finalist, you get incredible exposure to amazing travel advisors from across the country as well as invaluable advice from judges to help you grow. Applying for the contest is one the best decisions Travefy ever made."

-David Chait, Founder and CEO, Travefy & 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year winner

"I highly recommend any and all travel entrepreneurs to apply for ASTA's Entrepreneur of the Year Award. It has been a game changer for myself and my business. Embracing entrepreneurship is the way forward for travel advisors and we continue to need those who have successfully navigated the journey to inspire us."
-Meredith Hill, Chief Visionary Officer at Gifted Travel Network & 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year winner


Eligibility 

All travel advisors, agency managers, suppliers, and others in the travel and hospitality industry are eligible to receive the Award.   

Evaluation Criteria  

Nominees for the Award will be evaluated based on consideration of eight benchmarks demonstrating various aspects of the successful candidate’s innovative and entrepreneurial approach to the business and its future.  The benchmarks, in no particular order, are as follows: 

1. Continuity. How many years has the nominee been active in the travel industry?  How many consumers or companies use the nominee’s innovative product or service? 

2. Evolution.  How has the nominee or the nominee’s company adapted to change in the industry or market, and to changes in technology?  Why was this important and how was it accomplished?  What steps are taken to ensure that the product or service remains relevant? 

3. Experiential Travel.  Does the nominee’s product or service have an experiential fit, focus or component connecting the experience to history, people or culture?  Describe and explain its importance in today’s world and for the future of travel. 

4. Proven Impact.  How has the product or service already had a demonstrable impact on travelers and the industry as a whole?  Why will the innovation continue to impact travelers in the future? 

5. Curation. Does the nominee envision himself or herself as a travel curator, one who makes travel more meaningful for the traveler?  If so, please tell us and explain why this is important to the nominee. 

6. Marketing.  Describe how the nominee markets or merchandises its company and its products or services.  How does the nominee differentiate itself from others in the industry?  Has social media factored into the marketing focus? 

7. Growth.  Has the innovation had a positive impact on the company’s sales, profitability, or market share?  Has the product or service spawned imitators?  

8. Technology.  Describe the technology behind the product or service.  For example, does the solution include the use of mobile apps or similar recent innovations?  How has product usability been a factor? 

Entry Period 

Entries will be accepted online beginning on February 5, 2024 and ending on March 29, 2024. Submissions are now closed.

Required Submission 

Persons or organizations that wish to be considered for the Award must submit all of the following: 

  • The completed online application setting forth the nominee’s name and/or company name and contact information; 

  • A narrative statement, not to exceed 500 words, describing the nominee’s contribution to entrepreneurship in the industry and illustrating it relates to the benchmarks described above;   

  • A video, of no more than five minutes in length, which describes and/or demonstrates the innovative product or service and its value when viewed in light of the benchmarks. The video must be uploaded to a file sharing site, such as YouTube, Vimeo or DropBox (send us the link); 

  • Certification that, if selected as one of five semi-finalists, the nominee grants ASTA permission to post the nominee’s submission video and narrative statement on a members-only ASTA webpage; and 

  • Further certification that, if selected as one of the three finalists, the nominee will participate in the Entrepreneur of the Year session at The ASTA Travel Advisor Conference in Dallas, Texas, May 29-31, 2024 (session date and time TBD).  

Selection of Semi-Finalists 

A selection committee comprised of seasoned travel industry professionals jointly chosen by ASTA and the Foundation will review each complete submission that is received on or before the entry deadline stated below. Applying the stated evaluation criteria, each committee member will then rank the submissions in order from highest to lowest. Entrants receiving one of the five highest aggregate scores will be named as semi-finalists. In connection with the next stage of the competition, the videos and narrative statements of the five semi-finalists will be posted on a members-only ASTA webpage for viewing by ASTA members.   

Selection of Finalists 

Each of the five semi-finalists will be included in a poll posted on a members-only ASTA webpage. After reviewing each nominee’s video and narrative statement, members will have an opportunity to cast their vote for the candidate that they believe best exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship in travel. The poll will open at 9:00 a.m. EST on April 15 and close at 5:00 p.m. EST on April 19. 

The candidates receiving the highest, second highest, and third highest number of votes will be designated as finalists and move on to the Entrepreneur of the Year session at the ASTA Travel Advisor Conference to compete for the $10,000 prize. The non-finalist with the greatest number of votes will be designated as an alternate and will be invited to participate at ATAC should one of the three finalists be unable to attend.        

The Competition 

The three finalists will participate in a live competition at The ASTA Travel Advisor Conference. After a brief introduction of the participants, each finalist will be given approximately five minutes to make his or her presentation. Our Master of Ceremonies and fellow entrepreneur, Sandra McLemore, will then question the finalist regarding the strengths, weaknesses, and other aspects of the innovation or concept, and why it is worthy of being judged the year’s best representation of entrepreneurship in the industry.   

Following the presentations and questioning, each member of the audience will be entitled to cast their vote. The finalist receiving the greatest share of total audience vote will be declared the winner.  

Entry Deadline 

The application deadline was 5 p.m. EST on March 29, 2024.  Incomplete applications, or applications received after the deadline, will not receive consideration.

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