ORLANDO, FL (September 8, 2008) – Today, at ASTA’s annual meeting held at THETRADESHOW in Orlando, Tom Conlin, founder of Conlin Travel (Ann Arbor, Mich.) was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the highest honors that ASTA presents to individuals.
“Throughout the course of his career, Tom has not only been a pioneer but an ambassador for the industry,” said Cheryl Hudak, CTC, ASTA president and CEO. “No matter the challenge, he has learned to adapt, and his constant enthusiasm for travel and the travel agency industry is an inspiration to all.”
He founded Conlin Travel in 1959, after serving in the US Air Force. Five years later, he started Conlin Athletic Tours, which would become the official travel agency for Big 10 bowl trips. Since then he has gone to purchase other agencies and expand his business many times over, opening Conlin Enrichment Tours, for alumni and specialty groups; Conlin Travel in San Francisco, a corporate travel agency; Conlin Groups Meetings; Conlin Consulting, a technology integration firm; and Crossing Boundaries, a joint ownership that offers full service incentive travel management.
Realizing the need for highly-qualified new entrants to the travel industry, in 1983, Conlin and Joseph Hallissey opened Conlin-Hallissey Travel School. In 1998, he established the Great Lakes Cruise Co., which now represents all cruise lines on the Great Lakes and brought back passenger cruise ships to the Great Lakes by chartering two European ships, MV Columbus and Le Levant, for four consecutive years.
Among his accomplishments are many firsts, namely that Conlin Travel was the first agency to charter the Concorde with British Airways and he conducted the first alumni group trip to China. During his early years in the travel business, Conlin arranged for hundreds of student charters to Europe and created the concept of University Abroad. Later, Conlin Travel became the official US reservations center for Le Levant, a European cruise line.
Outside of his businesses, Conlin has been active in the industry overall and was a past president of ASTA’s Michigan Chapter, in addition to serving on several national ASTA committees, among them the Committee on Consumer Travel Awareness.
On a personal level, Conlin has been very active in his community and in May 2002 received the Distinguished Service Award from the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, where is a past president and current member. Conlin is also a past member of the Board of Directors of the Conlin-Hallissey Travel School and an alumni representative on the University of Michigan Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty (CESF). Additionally, he serves on the boards of Siena Heights University (Adrian, Mich.) and on the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Community Health Board since 1997.
ASTA’s (American Society of Travel Agents) mission 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, growing and a rewarding place to work, invest and do business.