The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) announced the nominees for two top award categories: the Extra Mile Award and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The winners will be announced at the ASTA Global Convention (AGC) in San Diego, August 27-29.
The Extra Mile Award is given to the travel agent who in the last 12 months has gone the "extra mile" to provide exceptional service for a client "in a new and creative way that goes above and beyond the normal course of business." ASTA said stories were submitted from around the world from agents who self-nominated and those who nominated their colleagues.
The Extra Mile Award finalists are: Lisa Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Travel; Tammy Levent, Elite Travel Management Group, Inc.; and Mindy Walts, Empress Travel & Cruises.
The Entrepreneur of the Year was established by the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation "to promote entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial spirit in the travel and hospitality industry through recognition of innovators who have either established their own business or who have been responsible for significant entrepreneurial initiatives within an existing organization."
The Foundation, in conjunction with ASTA, selects one person or organization "that best exemplifies this spirit of entrepreneurship" to receive the award and a $10,000 cash prize. For the first time, this year the three finalists will appear on stage at ASTA Global to participate in a live "Shark Tank"-style competition on Monday, August 28.
Each finalist will be given five minutes to make a pitch to a panel of travel experts and industry veteran judges, with the live audience acting as a "super judge," casting its collective vote. The Entrepreneur of the Year finalists are David Chait, Travefy; Nico and Elkie Nicholas, RentalsCombined.net; and Jacob Marek, IntroverTravels.
Marek was the subject of a June 7 guest column in Travel Market Report, focusing on his innovative approach to living in destinations where he wants to become a specialist.