DOT Secretary Elaine Chao to Headline ASTA's Virtual Global Convention

The American Society of Travel Advisors’ (ASTA) first-ever virtual Global Convention is less than one month away.

Taking place August 25-28, 2020, this summer’s “Essential Industry Event for Travel Agency Professionals” will feature insights and inspiration from some of the industry’s brightest minds and biggest players, including U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and a pair of ASTA Global Travel Advocate Award winners, Sen. Roy Blunt and Congresswoman Dina Titus. Blunt and Titus also serve as co-chairs of the U.S. Senate Travel & Tourism Caucus.

“In my 23 years in the industry, despite attending dozens of events each year, I’ve never seen the sitting Secretary of Transportation speak at any event,” ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby said in a statement. “In my former role running a large industry convention for 14 years, we invited the Secretary of Transportation every year. Every year we were turned down. Secretary Chao’s presence signals both a respect for and acknowledgment of the importance of travel advisors in the travel ecosystem.”

Attendees can look forward to plenty of other notable speakers, including Southwest Airlines President Tom Nealon, who will share insights into the carrier’s enhanced safety measures, an outlook on the Southwest traveler experience and the pivotal role that travel advisors play in the airline’s success.

Tom Krieglstein, Founder and Lead Facilitator of Swift Kick, will MC this year’s convention while TV host and guidebook author Rick Steves will deliver an exclusive keynote.

Other highlights will include CBS News Reporter Wendy Gillette’s interview with Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa-Lutoff-Perlo and Celebrity Edge Captain Kate McCue as well as a panel discussion moderated by Travel Weekly Editor-in-Chief Arnie Weissmann featuring media experts Jesse Ashlock, U.S. Editor of Condé Nast Traveler; Julia Cosgrove, Editor-in-Chief, AFAR; Brekke Fletcher, Executive Editor, Travel, CNN and Wall Street Journal columnist Scott McCartney.

The event’s entertainment will feature a performance by renowned magician and mentalist Gary Ferrar as well as mindfulness sessions led by meditation expert and Artisan Farmacy founder Corene Summers.

Discover Puerto Rico will host a social hour where travel advisors will learn how to dance salsa as well as make the perfect piña colada and prepare one of the island’s signature dishes in mofongo. Meanwhile, Silversea Cruises will host a virtual visit to the Galapagos Islands, and Carnival’s Drew Santiago and ASTA’s Bob Duglin will co-host “Bingo with Bob.” Plus, AmaWaterways’ Wine Cruise Sales and Business Development Manager Liz Barrett will host a wine-themed trivia game.

Because this year’s event will take place online, attendees will be able to participate at their convenience on-demand.

ASTA members can register for next month’s Global Convention for $99 while non-members can register for $199. However, scholarship opportunities are available for ASTA members to help with costs.

Registration includes access to all sessions in addition to interactive opportunities with more than 100 leading travel partners, all virtual networking lounges and social events, on-demand content and all bonus sessions and prizes, among other perks. Since there won’t be any in-person lunches, attendees who register early will be among the first to receive UberEats gift cards.

As of Monday, registrants can reserve their spot for ASTA’s education sessions and networking opportunities. Beginning, Tuesday, August 4, travel advisors can schedule their one-on-one appointments with tradeshow suppliers.

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