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American Society of Travel Agents

ASTA’s successful Travel Agency Legal Symposium offered critical insight, tips from industry leaders

More than 170 travel industry professionals interested in furthering their understanding of current and pending regulatory and legal issues gathered to hear critical insight from such noteworthy leaders as the Department of Transportation’s Samuel Podberesky, assistant general counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, travel industry attorney Mark Pestronk, Esq., and ASTA Senior Vice President of Legal & Industry Affairs Paul Ruden, Esq. The information was provided through ASTA’s 2011 Travel Agency Legal Symposium.
 
This online conference marked the launch of ASTA’s Business Executive Series, which is designed to provide ASTA members with direct access to experts through a succession of thought-provoking and informative programs to assist today’s travel professional in dealing with the greatest challenges facing the industry.
 
“ASTA continues to be a leader in providing the business-critical information that today’s travel agents need to be successful,” said ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar. “This symposium  typifies the depth and breadth of  the benefits regularly made available to ASTA members.”
 
“Yesterday’s Travel Agency Legal Symposium is just one example of the many, many reasons why I choose to belong to today’s ASTA!  I truly believe that everyone who is in the business of selling travel needs to be an ASTA member," said Kate Murphy, CTA, president of Wings Travel Group (Blue Bell, Pa.), who participated in the webinar.
 
Other attendees said of the symposium:
“The Travel Agency Legal Symposium held online on Aug. 11, 2011 was extremely valuable to me as a small agency owner.  The rules and regulations that were discussed were incredibly valuable.  The new DOT Rules were worrisome to me, and I felt very good after finding out that what I was doing as a matter of standard business practice was exactly what I should be doing.  But, most valuable, was the discussion of independent contractors and how to deal with issues surrounding them.  This and disclosures made the entire symposium for me,” said Ted Bradpiece, owner and vice president of Two Bears Travel (Shadow Hills, Calif.).
 
"Legal issues are at the forefront of all travel agency owners minds. Having ASTA help us sort out the challenges we face and providing us with expert advice is a real bonus.  It serves to enhance the value we receive from our membership and association with ASTA,” said Camille Adams with The Travel Service (St. Simons Island, Ga.)
 
“We had all of my office staff listen in, and we found it very informative both for the DOT portion on upcoming changes in consumer advertising … and on the current GDS situation and Direct Connect update.  [It] was well worth the two-hour investment for myself and staff,” said Ike Reynolds, CTC, president of Reynolds Travel LLC (Columbus, Ohio).
 
The event was broken out into three stand-alone sessions:
– Prepare Your Business to Meet Your Statutory Obligations with DOT’s New Rules. Presented by Paul Ruden, and Samuel Podberesky, this session reviewed the DOT’s code share disclosure and price advertising rules, along with baggage fee disclosure rules set to begin Aug. 23, 2011 and Jan. 24, 2012.
– Travel Agency Legal Check-Up. This preventative review of the critical things agents can do to protect their business was presented by Mark Pestronk and Paul Ruden.
– Direct Connect or Misconnect. Presented by Mark Pestronk, this session reviewed the current Global Distribution System (GDS) environment, with a focus on how the airline-GDS contract battles and Direct Connect may impact agents’ financial model.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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