Michael was born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago. He attended Northern Illinois University where he received a BS in Biological Sciences. It didn’t take him long to realize the routine of scientific testing work didn’t match with his personality.
Following a 29-year career working for the airlines in increasing sales roles, Michael joined Sky Bird Travel & Tours in 2015 as Sky Bird’s first Business Development Manager. As the sales team grew, Michael took on the role of Director as well as overseeing the Customer Service division. He is often the face of Sky Bird at industry events and the voice of Sky Bird on webinars featuring our WINGS booking engine.
A hospitality and tourism professional, Kelly Bigel joined ASTA in 2015, and has served in multiple positions during her tenure. Currently, Kelly is the Vice President of Business Development, where she recruits travel supplier company members, collaborates with them to create creative, customized outreach campaigns, and leads the Business Development team in executing successful trade shows and events.
In addition to her Business Development duties, Kelly was lead contributor on reorganizing the chapter structure, created and managed multiple Education Sessions and represents ASTA at various industry events. Before joining ASTA, Kelly held a series of Sales and Management roles at multiple Ritz-Carlton Hotels. In addition, Kelly worked as Strategic Account Manager of Escapes at LivingSocial, after coming from her position of Regional Sales Manager at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas.
Kelly received a BS in Hospitality from the Rosen School of Hospitality Management at University of Central Florida.
Kelly lives with her husband in Washington, DC, where she spends her free time volunteering, sailboat racing on the Potomac, practicing yoga, and of course, traveling! Read the rest of this entry »
Along the coast of West Africa is the welcoming country of Ghana, its name meaning “Warrior King.” As one of the most stable countries in Africa, it is quickly becoming the perfect gateway to Africa for first time visitors. Tourism is steadily increasing, and there seems to be no slowing soon. Ghana is harmony between the diverse cultures that exist within its boundaries, a land of nature and humans coexisting. Read the rest of this entry »
Ernie has been conducting tours since 2003. He has conducted Ghost, Voodoo, and Cemetery tours for Haunted History Tours longer than most tour companies have been in business. In fact, Ernie is a native of Louisiana who was born in Slidell and raised in New Orleans, Georgia, and Florida. After returning home from active duty he attended Delgado Community College. Ernie discovered the tour guide profession, by chance, one night after taking a Ghost tour. Ernie’s love for the culture and unique history of New Orleans led him to become a licensed professional tour guide Read the rest of this entry »
Sitting next to the great expanse that is the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is home to the Maori people and a diverse natural landscape. It is laid-back, while remaining a place full of adventure. This neighbor to Australia is worth every hour spent there, and more. That’s why Goway Travel wants to help get the traveler to the islands that don’t disappoint.
Since 1986, Elegant Adventures has offered up the best of Central America. That’s more than 30 years of an area that has only recently exploded in popularity. As an authority in this area, Elegant Adventures pays attention to the details with an expert ear and service. Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama… they’ve got the traveler covered from all angles.
One of the first things you notice about Elegant Adventures is the CEO, Dan Conaway. Talking with him myself in an earlier interview, he obviously has a passion regarding Central America Read the rest of this entry »
As one of Costa Rica’s major ecotourism destinations, Monteverde is a perfect place to witness the natural phenomenon of a cloud forest. These lush forests have suspension bridges, walkways, and ziplines in the canopies of dense trees – and often have low-lying clouds that create an amazing atmosphere of mystery and beauty. And Costa Rica Dream Adventures can get the traveler to this lovely slice of Mother Nature in one of the most pleasant countries on Earth. Read the rest of this entry »
Morocco attracts millions of travelers each year from all over the world. And we understand why! The country offers a wide range of landscapes and activities that leave tourists in awe: beaches and seaside resorts on the Mediterranean or Atlantic coasts, Atlas (mountains or dunes), wadis, oases of the desert, or the secret lanes from the medinas of beautiful cities like Fez, Tangier, Marrakech or Casablanca. All paired with the hospitality of the locals, will leave you loving Morocco and hungry for more. Today’s article is brought to you by Holidays with Downtown.
Anthony Bourdain once said of Vietnam, “The food, culture, landscape, and smell; they’re all inseparable. It just seemed like another planet; a delicious one that sort of sucked me in and never let go.” And this seems to be the prevailing memories people take home from this exotic land of fantastic food and staggering natural beauty. Today’s article on Vietnam is brought to you by ChinaTour.com, and they want the agent to know all about the possibilities that Vietnam holds.
Dan Conaway is CEO and cofounder of Elegant Adventures, an upscale tour operator specializing in custom travel to Central America and the Caribbean. His travel and tourism career has spanned four decades and has included marketing and consulting services for foreign tourist boards and high-quality hotels and resorts worldwide, as well as operating a chain of retail travel agencies.
This experience, combined with his passion for exploring the reefs, jungles and diverse cultures of this fascinating region was the foundation for establishing Elegant Adventures. Dan is committed to educating and sharing his extensive knowledge and expertise with retail travel professionals nationwide and to delivering superior personal service to their clients. Read the rest of this entry »
In the foothills of the Anders lies a city surrounded by majestic peaks and natural forests. A city known for skiing and hiking, as well as its mild and windy summers. This small and charming city is known as San Carlos de Bariloche, otherwise known as simply Bariloche. Thanks to Aerolineas Argentinas, one of only three airlines that fly to Bariloche, for sponsoring today’s article. Read the rest of this entry »
Serving the travel industry for 75 years, Travel Leaders has understood what it takes for Independent Contractors to succeed in today’s world. When working with Travel Leaders, your clients will have confidence knowing that you’re aligned with an established, respected, brick-and-mortar operation that provides solid national support and clout.
Their network is an extensive collection of successful, independently owned travel agencies across the USA and Canada. Each agency has its own personality and unique hosting program, but they also get the valuable core benefits that Travel Leaders is known for. Read the rest of this entry »
The Northern Territory of Australia is a silent dream, one that stirs the imagination in its bare beauty. National Parks provide an immersive feeling of quiet, while islands of aboriginal peoples remain culturally intact for an authentic experience. From a coastal capital city to natural sights that can only be seen here, the expanses of the Northern Territory are reflections of serenity away from the traveler’s worries waiting at home. With AAT Kings offering up guided tours, short breaks, and day tours, the Northern Territory is within reach of the traveler – as well as the hands of a friendly and engaged tour operator.
Since 2017, Eben Peck has served as Executive Vice President, Advocacy at the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), where he is responsible for ASTA’s work to advocate for the travel agency community at all levels of government, within the travel industry and before the traveling public. This includes management of ASTA’s Government Affairs, Industry Affairs, Communications, Research and Legal functions, and ranges from day-to-day association management to federal/state government affairs to interaction with national and trade media to liaising with travel suppliers and industry groups to content for ASTA’s annual conference and other events.
From 2012 to 2017, he served as ASTA’s Vice President, Government Affairs and Senior Vice President, Government & Public Affairs, with a heavy focus on the Society’s core advocacy functions – federal and state lobbying, regulatory compliance and ASTA’s political action committee. Accomplishments of note during this period include legislative and regulatory “wins” that saved the travel agency industry an estimated $563 million in new taxes, fees and other costs and more than quadrupling annual PAC receipts to over $230,000. Read the rest of this entry »
Brussels, the capital of Belgium is full of life and there are lots of things to do in this multicultural, dynamic and open city. From the history and art that fill its many museums, to the beer and bars that make its nightlife famous, the city has an energy and atmosphere that makes it the perfect getaway destination. Attractions include the Grand Place, an iconic square full of gold-gilt buildings and awe-inspiring architecture, the Delirium café, a basement bar pouring more than 2000 different kinds of beers, many parks offering beautiful views and peaceful surroundings, the Atomium with its impressive structure made up of nine huge, stainless steel spheres and finally the European Quarter with its famous landmarks such as the European Parliament and Commission buildings. Read the rest of this entry »
New Orleans is a special place, the most unique city in the United States of America. Its history is a collage of French and Spanish, with a hint of the Caribbean. The pervading philosophy is a good time. Historic houses line oak-lined streets, while streetcar bells echo as they roll by. New Orleanians know the value of enjoying the only life we’ve been given. As they say in the Crescent City, “Laissez les bons temps rouler” – Let the good times roll. Which is why Blue-Roads Touring wants you to know all about this soulful city. Read the rest of this entry »
Ann Chamberlin, Senior Vice President of Membership & Strategic Partnerships and the President of the ASTA Small Business Network, formerly NACTA. She is responsible for the association’s membership growth and support, chapter operations and consortia partnerships. She leads the vision for ASTA membership programs, strengthens the company through strategic partnerships and membership growth to ensure ASTA remains the top membership choice for travel advisors.
During her NACTA tenure, she and her team raised the membership criteria qualifications, rebranded the association, expanded the supplier portfolio, and strengthened the chapter system through a regionalized structure. ASTA member engagement and participation in ASTA’s many programs and events remain her main focus. Reporting directly to the President and CEO of ASTA, she works collaboratively with the staff of the American Society of Travel Advisors to ensure the success of both associations. Read the rest of this entry »
On the northwestern coast of Costa Rica is the Golfo de Papagayo, meaning “gulf of the parrot”. A place with the best of what the rest of the country has to offer: beaches, national parks, scuba diving, fishing, and much more. But the peninsula along it offers up resorts and protected natural landscapes within a gated community, and plenty of relaxation and adventure. Thanks to Costa Rica Dream Adventures, todays article will go into this recently developed part of an already popular destination, Costa Rica. Read the rest of this entry »
Mykonos. It is the glimmer and glamour of the Mediterranean, a gorgeous getaway in the Cycladic Islands. Images of crisp white and blue radiate in the summer sun, while the seas and beaches invite the traveler to stay awhile. The view from restaurants is divine and the partying top-notch. There are plenty of reasons Mykonos remains a popular destination. Today’s Outpost article is brought to you by CTS Fares. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most iconic sites in the United States, the Grand Canyon has been a staple for travelers since olden time and home to a native population for thousands of years. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The Grand Canyon fills with me with awe,’ and declared it “the one great sight which every American should see.” It was one of the first, great tourist attractions in the US, and remains so to this day. Today’s 60-Second Geography is brought to you be Vacations By Rail.
Daniel Turner is an environmental biologist who has been working for the advancement of animal welfare knowledge and protection for over 20 years. During that time, he has created and led initiatives that have influenced international policy, national legislation and activities by international travel industry.
From 2000 to 2017 he worked for the international wildlife protection NGO, Born Free Foundation, where he established its department dedicated to animal welfare in tourism. Taking a more pragmatic approach, Daniel developed partnerships with travel businesses and their trade associations to create capacity-building programmes and guidance, which included the Travelife Animal Attractions Handbook (2008) and ABTA’s Animal Welfare Guidelines (2013). In 2018, Daniel co-founded ANIMONDIAL, a specialist consultancy that provides impartial advice and practical guidance to travel businesses seeking to better manage their impact on animals and the natural environment. Working in partnership with likeminded individuals and organizations, Daniel hopes to use combined knowledge and expertise to advance an understanding in, and an application of, animal welfare science in tourism. Read the rest of this entry »