11/03/2011Cancun Plays Host to ASTA’s Chapter Presidents Council

ASTA has announced that Cancun, Mexico, played host to ASTA’s Chapter Presidents Council’s (CPC) first meeting of the year, March 3-5.

In addition to reviewing key issues relevant to ASTA’s chapters and members, the CPC heard from representatives with the Mexico Tourism Board and learned about Mexico’s newest program, the ‘Magic of Mexico,’ an array of online resources, coupled with an educational portal to help agents promote and sell a variety of Mexico experiences.

“Our recent meeting in Cancun was a wonderful opportunity for our Chapter Presidents, who all are seasoned travel professionals, to experience one of Americans’ favorite international destinations. We understand the important role Mexico plays in our business mix, as it continues to be a favorite among clients,” said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo. “The weather was perfect and the people were amazing. In all my travels it is still tough to top the beautiful turquoise waters and white sand beaches this great destination has to offer. With the great restaurants and variety of hotels, not to mention the proximity to the U.S., it is still one of the best destinations for people to escape to.”

“Our relationship with ASTA is of utmost importance to us; this was reiterated last week at the Chapter Presidents Council meeting in Cancun. We rely on travel agents to communicate the latest news, flights and top destinations within Mexico, especially during a time when misconceptions are common. Because of this, the Mexico Tourism Board’s top priority is creating first-rate training and tools that give agents access to this, as well as inspection FAM trips,” said Alfonso Sumano, director of the America for Mexico Tourism Board. “We are committed to providing travel agents with everything they need to sell Mexico with confidence. As a result, we are looking ahead to a strategic alliance with ASTA.”

As Greg Custer, vice president of Destination Ventures, Ltd. (Bend, Ore.), a Mexico Tourism Board agency for travel agent training, explains, the Magic of Mexico program “hosts an array of tools and interactive e-learning courses, available 24/7. This agent-only site contains courses, study guides, maps, videos, virtual tours, safety and security updates, FAM trips, agent rewards and unique insights about selling Mexico to the North American traveler. These free resources strive to make agents ‘fluent’ in confidently understanding the diverse Mexico product. Agents can select both ‘destination’ and ‘hotel’ e-learning options. Progress is bookmarked, and there’s 1-800 learner support, Monday through Friday. The program currently has over 11,000 agents actively taking courses. ASTA agents are invited to explore the Campus at www.magicofmexico.com.”
With respect to ASTA business, among the many topics discussed by the CPC were ways in which to invigorate member participation in grassroots legislative efforts and how to best develop local marketing plans that will strengthen ASTA at both the national and chapter levels.

Of their time in Cancun, the chapter presidents were in agreement that the destination has much to offer tourists.

Jason Coleman, CTC, ECC, DS, president of the Southern California Chapter, said, “This weekend was my first visit, and I can say without a doubt that Cancun and the surrounding region remains a great choice to offer my clients. The area includes a wide variety of accommodations and activities that can appeal to everyone. The Mexican people I encountered were warm and hospitable, and anxious to welcome American guests. I highly recommend a vacation to Cancun very soon!”

Long Island Chapter President Steve Powers said, “The signs at the airport say it all, ‘Welcome to Paradise!’ and after my first trip back to Cancun in almost 30 years, I really felt like I arrived in paradise. The ocean front rooms at the Westin Hotel provided stunning views of the white sandy beach that seemed to extend forever. I still can’t get that azure blue ocean color out of my head. I was able to easily hire a car and drive out to see the ruins at Chichen Itza. I arrived at 8am just as they opened and felt the magic as I walked through the gates and got my first glimpse of the towering pyramid of Kukulcan.

“It should be a must-see on everyone’s itinerary,” Powers added. “Everywhere I went up and down the coast the people were friendly and welcoming. There is so much to do there now including water sports, eco-parks or just lazing on the beach. However, there is just one thing I can’t figure out- why did I go home! Viva Cancun!”

Karl Rosen, president of ASTA’s Orange County chapter, said of his visit: “Cancun has an extremely warm and welcoming population together with the hotel staff. Everyone has a friendly smile and there is no other place you can see such beautiful turquoise water. It is a great destination, and I love it.”

ASTA would like to thank the Westin Resort & Spa, Cancun; the Westin Lagunamar, the Mexico Tourism Board and the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The mission of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. ASTA seeks a retail travel marketplace that is profitable and growing and a rewarding field in which to work, invest and do business.