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Education Tracks

NEW THIS YEAR! Based on where you're at in the travel industry, ASTA has curated three specific education tracks intended to give you the knowledge to bring your travel business to the next level. Want to mix and match between tracks? Go right ahead and personalize the perfect Travel Advisor Conference agenda for you and your business.


CULTIVATE

Focused on those newer to the industry, the Cultivate track will help arm travel advisors with the tools they need to build their business in the right way — from marketing, back-office accounting, branding and more.


Building A Brand That Stands Out In A Crowded Industry
Adam Duckworth, President & Founder, Travelmation
My life is travel and building a brand that creates magical memories for people around the world. In just the past few years my company, Travelmation, has more than doubled the number of agents and we are seeing significant growth unlike any other. We’ve done that by building a company that is gaining recognition with agents, vendors and clients.
  • My session will reveal:
    • How to create a recognizable brand in all the noise
    • Marketing in new & innovative ways
    • Giving your agents independence while still representing your brand
    • What former methods to lose to thrive in 2023 and beyond

Between Commissions: Agent & Agency Financial Cents
Amber Spells, Tax Advisor & Accountant, AMS Consulting Group, LLC
This session is tailored to assist new travel agents and agency owners in maximizing their financial resources. Gain insights into enhancing the value of your money, enabling you to expand services and establish a financially secure agency. In this session, we'll delve into the intricacies of cash flow projections, balance sheets, and profit & loss statements. Learn how money circulates within your business and acquire the tools to make informed financial decisions.

Effectively Asking For and Leveraging Reviews
Jenn Lee, Vice President of Industry Engagement & Support, Travel Planners International
Reviews are essential for any travel advisor or agency that wants to succeed online. They help potential customers learn more about you and build trust and loyalty with your agency. However, many advisors choke on asking for reviews or rely solely on impersonal, automated emails to do the heavy lifting. Jenn will explore why reviews (Google is the only one that counts!) are vital, share tips on requesting effective reviews, discuss leveraging these reviews on social media, and offer guidance on responding to positive and negative feedback.

Zero to Sixty: Finding Your Niche and Building a Successful Brand as a Travel Advisor
Lillian Rafson, Founder & CEO, Pack Up + Go
This session will enable new travel advisors to confidently build and grow successful businesses. We will cover discovering your niche, communication channels for each stage of the traveler life cycle, and tools for streamlining operations. Advisors will leave this session with a clear path forward and action items to launch, run, and grow their business.

Building & Evaluating Your Business Plan In Our Ever-Changing World
Jacqueline Marks, Global Head of Trade Brands, ALG Vacations
Business plans are like road maps: it’s possible to travel without one, but that will only increase the odds of getting lost along the way.  Owners with a business plan see growth 30% faster than those without one.  A good business plan is not a novel that gets written and put on a shelf.  In this session you will learn simple and efficient steps to set a vision that your entire office contributes to.  Also how to create accountability with defined strategies and actions.  Key elements we will cover:
  • Understanding what’s working and not working in your business has been a guiding process/tool ALGV uses in all plans and strategies.
  • How to define goals, outcomes and ownership.
  • Tracking updates and results. 

How to Communicate Anything to Anyone
Kathy Gruver, Speaker, Author, & Coach
Communication is key. But what happens when the people communicating are speaking different languages? Learn what type of communicator you are and how to reach across that divide to influence others who communicate in a different way. A combination of communication skills, NLP, improvisation, and psychology will imbue the audience with new skills and understanding to make sure their message is heard, effective and productive. Whether between coworkers, team members, bosses or in front of an audience, this workshop will up your game and allow you to accomplish more with less misunderstanding and confusion. This program is for anyone that wants to learn more about communication style, conscious communication, thinking on their feet, direct and inferred communication and how to get what you want with different personality types.
  • Participants will learn the different types and styles of communication.
  • Practice how to approach people using their language to get their message heard and their objectives met.
  • Quick ways to think on their feet.
  • Learn how to bring out the inner extrovert or tone down energy to not frighten the introverts away.
  • NLP (neuro linguistic programming) skills for communication.


ACCELERATE

Are you already a sales superstar but want to take your travel business to the next level? The Accelerate track will focus on the business skills, legal knowledge and operations acumen needed to grow your business exponentially.


Verified Travel Advisor (VTA) Preparatory Session I: Legal Insights and Ethical Excellence Courses
Peter Lobasso, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, ASTA
Hayley Anhalt, Corporate Counsel, ASTA
VTA Fast Track Option: ASTA is providing two preparatory course for advisors aiming to obtain their VTA accreditation during TAC. Attendees are required to participate in both preparatory sessions and the VTA Testing on Friday, May 31st.

Prepare for the VTA test by exploring ethical considerations and core principles essential for travel advisors. Explore real-world case studies, equip yourself with tools to address ethical challenges, and gain insights into legal issues critical for safeguarding your business and clients.



Verified Travel Advisor (VTA) Preparatory Session II: Legal Compass and Regulatory Guidebook Courses
Peter Lobasso, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, ASTA
Hayley Anhalt, Corporate Counsel, ASTA
VTA Fast Track Option: ASTA is providing two preparatory course for advisors aiming to obtain their VTA accreditation during TAC. Attendees are required to participate in both preparatory sessions and the VTA Testing on Friday, May 31st.

Prepare for the VTA test with a comprehensive legal exploration of agency relationships and the role of travel advisors. Gain insights into legal rights, compliance obligations, and navigate industry regulations confidently, ensuring ethical conduct and professional success. This preparatory course will highlight the knowledge and tools to navigate legal complexities that an advisor may face.



Verified Travel Advisor (VTA) Testing
Courses above must be completed prior to testing. Upon completion of both VTA Preparatory sessions, participants become eligible to earn their VTA accreditation. In this session, students who have registered for and attended both preparatory sessions can demonstrate their understanding of the four core courses to attain the Verified Travel Advisor (VTA) accreditation. Upon successfully passing the VTA testing, you'll not only affirm your expertise but also establish yourself as a reliable and respected travel advisor. Take advantage of this opportunity to enhance your credentials and make stand out in this competitive industry.

Interesting Legal Topics For Travel Advisors
Jeffrey Ment, Managing Partner, The Ment Law Group, PC
In the session, which is hopefully interactive, we will talk about how travel advisors can avoid legal pitfalls. We will use real life examples to educate advisors on the ramifications of what they say and do from a legal perspective.

Empowering Your Business Growth
Timm Johnson, Director, Mason Small Business Development Center
Get ready to take your business to the next level! Join us for an empowering session led by Timm Johnson, Director of the Mason SBDC at George Mason University. Discover game-changing strategies, invaluable tips, and expert advice to fuel your business growth journey. You'll walk away with the understanding on how to:
  • Enhance your digital footprint
  • Master financial management
  • Navigate the hiring process
  • Unlock the power of free expert assistance from programs like the SBDC
Plus, get all your burning questions answered to propel your business forward with confidence! See you there!

Innovative Sales Techniques for Travel Advisors: Closing Deals and Boosting Revenue
Scott Rutz, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Founding Team, Travefy
Join Travefy's Scott Rutz to as for a deep dive into the world of sales and uncovering the fundamentals of creating powerful, repeatable sales process that enables advisors to build their business personally and across a team. In this session we'll cover:
  • Sales fundamentals and best practices
  • Build a Sales workflow to increase sales and efficiency
  • How to scale a sales process across a team

Advocacy Updates
Jessica Klement, Vice President of Advocacy, ASTA
Join us for the latest insights from Jessica Klement, ASTA's Vice President, Advocacy, as she brings you up to date on the freshest updates from Capitol Hill. Jessie will provide a complete rundown of the ongoing legislative concerns and advocacy campaigns that have a direct impact on the travel advisor industry.

Partnering With Suppliers for Mutual Success and Profitability
Camille Olivere, Chief Sales Officer, Avalon Waterways | Globus Family of Brands
How to prepare for and approach suppliers. What to ask for and how to ask for it. To provide success stories of agencies and advisors alike.

If Nothing Changes, Nothing Will Change
Kerry Dyer, Chief Development Officer, Brownell Travel, Inc.
Whether an entrepreneur owning your own travel business or an employee managing a book of business, this session is for you. Maintaining relevancy, efficiency, and profitability is top of mind for advisors yet often not a priority. To successfully execute changes within your business you need a clear plan and a clear path. The plan includes the ideas, strategies, and initiatives to drive results and create change. Join this session and walk away with skills to:
  • Assess your business
  • Determine needs and opportunities
  • Create a customized strategy to address the needs and opportunities
  • Develop an execution plan

Own Your Power and Presence
Candance Bertotti, President, Candid Conversations
Customers have a choice to put their precious family, and safety, in the hands of travel advisors. Owning our power and presence is essential in conveying our value, attracting new customers, and ensuring our current customers are at ease. Join us for this highly interactive and research-based workshop, designed to boost your confidence and amplify your voice. Leave with simple and effective tools that you can use immediately to increase the quality of your presence and influence.

Deliver A Powerful You
Candance Bertotti, President, Candid Conversations
Join us for this highly interactive workshop, designed to boost your confidence and amplify your voice. Finesse the art of introducing yourself, (and others), and practice conveying important concepts with the fewest possible words. Leave with simple and effective tools that you can use immediately to increase the quality of your presence and influence.

 

INNOVATE

Travel industry leaders didn’t get to the top by resting on their laurels. Leadership skills, high-level negotiation tactics and ethics training will help even the most seasoned travel veterans refine their abilities.


Negotiation: Build Trust and Rapport
Chris Voss, Former Lead FBI Hostage Negotiator & Author, The Black Swan Group
Join us for an incredible session featuring Chris Voss, the former lead international FBI Hostage Negotiator and CEO/founder of The Black Swan Group. Dive into the world of negotiation with insights from his New York Times bestseller, Never Split the Difference. In this captivating keynote, Chris unveils revolutionary concepts that go beyond traditional negotiation tactics. Learn the art of seeking a "no" instead of a "yes," employing empathy over logic to build trust with your counterpart, and uncovering game-changing information that may be hidden. This isn't just about negotiation; it's about transforming the way you approach challenges. You'll discover how these techniques have not only won million-dollar lawsuits but also restored broken marriages. Chris's expertise has positively impacted countless lives, and now you have the opportunity to harness the power of negotiation to elevate your own professional journey. Don't miss out on this invaluable session that promises to bring tangible value to your role as a travel advisor.


No More Inspirational Junk Food: 5 Reasons Leadership Development Programs Fail
Michelle Villatoro, CEO, Just Think Hospitality, Inc.
In today's fast-paced business landscape, leadership development is no longer a luxury but a critical investment. Shockingly, despite an annual expenditure of $356 billion on leadership development training, just 25% of senior leaders believe it's vital for their organization's success (McKinsey & HBR). It's time to bid farewell to the ineffective "inspirational junk food" approach and embark on a journey to uncover the five hidden culprits behind program failures.

Engage in this high-impact, interactive session where participants explore genuine challenges faced by leadership training. Michelle introduces a proven framework boasting an extraordinary 99% success rate, designed for sustainable behavior change and enhanced leadership competencies. Through compelling presentations and hands-on activities, uncover the traps hindering progress and learn effective strategies to overcome them.

This must-attend event offers real-world examples, invaluable lessons, and actionable advice from successful organizations. Learn to enhance leader confidence, staff happiness, and engagement, leading to elevated customer service scores and increased guest loyalty going from “Welcome” to “Welcome Back.” Acquire practical, impactful strategies, setting clear objectives, embracing inclusivity, and implementing effective measurement practices. Join us to revolutionize your leadership development journey!


AI, Synthetic Media, and Your Customer Experience (CX): Leverage Technology to Improve Your Communicative Touch Points
Jill Schiefelbein, Chief Experience Officer, Render
Did you know that AI can now write your marketing copy? Create videos with your digital likeness? Provide subjective advice to your clients? Produce training for your employees? Even if you're on the fence about trusting artificial intelligence tools, knowing about these technologies, especially when combined with forms of synthetic media (think deep fakes, but not nefarious), is important for any leader. Examining these tools through the frame of customer experience, you'll learn about the evolution of communication technologies, how artificial intelligence has expanded our range of connective possibilities, and how to strategically implement AI in your business.


Mitigating Risk For All Travelers: Domestic & International
John Rose, Chief Risk & Security Officer, ALTOUR
Join us for an enlightening session that equips you with the knowledge to travel responsibly, safely, and confidently. Discover crisis management strategies for effective decision-making, communication, and coordination with local authorities, with an emphasis on contingency planning for natural disasters, political unrest, or public health emergencies. Uncover the power of technological solutions, from real-time emergency alerts to language translation apps, empowering travelers to make informed decisions, navigate unfamiliar territories, and seek assistance in emergencies. Finally, embrace responsible travel behavior, advocating for cultural sensitivity, environmental consciousness, and adherence to local laws, promoting a positive interaction between travelers and host communities.

 

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