Meet ASATA’s Board of Directors for 2013/2014

At our recently held AGM, ASATA elected its new Board for the coming year. With our recent adopted funding model in place, it was the first time we applied the new voting process to elect our Board Members, based on market share. We also used the opportunity to call an Extraordinary General Meeting to approve several motions, including the securing of two additional Board positions to include representatives from our Wholesale and our Partner Sections.

ASATA’s new Board Members are:-

President: Claude Vankeirsbilck – Chief Sales Officer of Tourvest Travel Services. In this role, Claude leads the New Business Development division and is responsible for building and maintaining executive-level relationships with the TTS corporate client base.
Vice-President:   Vanya Lessing – CEO of Sure Holdings Ltd. Vanya’s key responsibilities are to look after the commercial interests of the Sure Group stakeholders; being shareholders, licensees and suppliers.
Treasurer: James Sedgwick – comes from a financial background, having worked in the auditing profession before moving into the financial services sector. His involvement in travel comes through his directorship of Fishhoek Travel as well as the Sure Group.
Chief Executive Officer: Otto de Vries – CEO of ASATA. He was previously Managing Director of Holiday Tours and Holiday Travel and has been in the travel and tourism industry for over 25 years.
Members – Retail: Garth Wolff – CEO of E-Travel.
Bronwyn Philipps – Managing Director of HRG Rennies Travel.
Member – Wholesale: George Argyropoulos – Managing Director of Cruises International.
Member – Partners: Charmaine Hardwick – Group Sales Director at Protea Hotels.

The new Board not only represents consistency as we work through the implementation of our strategy of Compliance, Consensus and Confidence, but also includes 3 new Board Members, each bringing with them invaluable experience, input and guidance and helping to ensure that our vision of championing ASATA members as the consumer’s channel of choice when buying travel products and services, is achieved.

For photo’s and detailed biographies, please visit our About the Directors and Staff page.

ASATA Conference 2013

ASATA Conference 2013


It is with great pleasure that we announce our ASATA Conference 2013
taking place in Dubai in August.

The theme of this year’s Conference is “the hub of your travel business”. Our goal is to deliver a first class Conference that will allow senior members to network and be briefed on key industry matters and activities of the Association and to re-enforce the message of confidence. Our focus is on engaging industry, so attendees can look forward to relevant business panel discussions and guest speakers who are experts in their fields, sharing and engaging attendees on various topics. Of course the work will be interspersed with leisure time and activities and functions that will further enhance the opportunity to network.

I strongly recommend that our Members make every effort to attend. It is through participation that the real value of your Association is revealed. Our collective power through the input and involvement of our Members is what creates the framework within which our industry regulates itself and operates, in the interest and advancement of a professional industry and to the benefit of the traveling public.

We look forward to welcoming you and hosting you in Dubai! Please visit our ASATA Conference 2013 website for full details and to register.

Otto de Vries
Chief Executive Officer

IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC)

Message to ASATA Members:

By now most of you would have heard or read about IATA’s development of new industry standards for the transmission of data, that will facilitate product differentiation, increased sales of ancillary products and services and personalized offers, namely NDC (New Distribution Capability)

To date the proposed NDC has been met with great scepticism and concern, particularly by the global travel agent community and GDS companies. It would appear as if the NDC is being developed to not only circumvent the travel agent and GDS in the distribution of airline ticket sales but also to control and limit access to fares, based on client profiling. Of late IATA has gone to great lengths to alleviate these fears and there appears to be a genuine willingness to commit to a consultative process with the Travel Agent community, as they move forward with their plans.

ASATA has engaged IATA in this process, meeting with their Senior Vice President of Industry Distribution and Financial Services during his recent visit to South Africa. We then participated in the PAPGJC and AAF meeting in Madrid, where the matter was once again raised. ASATA joined the newly formed Agents Airline Forum, a global forum with a focus on strategic issues with discussions initiated and led by Global Agent Associations, Airline Associations and IATA on passenger distribution standards and infrastructure.

Following these meetings the WTAAA (World Travel Agents Association Alliance) held its Board of Directors meeting in Sao Paulo. The purpose of WTAAA is to foster and facilitate exchange of information and advice on matters of mutual interest, and provides a forum for the consideration of common strategic visions and synergies

NDC was the key topic of discussion and following the meeting we sent out a letter to IATA in which we raised several key concerns regarding NDC.

Be therefore assured that ASATA is taking every possible action to protect our industry. Effort is being made not only to understand NDC, but to participate in discussions and debates that will allow us to develop a clear opinion of its intentions and proposed outcomes. In due course we will be in a position to put out a clear statement to IATA on whether the Southern African Travel Agent industry will support or oppose the roll out of NDC. We need to be sure that the value proposition being presented by IATA on NDC is mindful and respectful of the distribution channel called Travel Agents, which still delivers over 60% of global airline sales.


Otto de Vries
ASATA: Chief Executive Officer

Meet ASATA’s open door CEO!

Strategic, committed and approachable, ASATA’s new Chief Executive Officer Otto de Vries has his sights firmly set on developing and maintaining the highest level of expertise and professionalism within the industry.

Otto joined the organisation as of 1 January 2013 bringing with him 25 years experience in the travel industry, 17 of these in senior management roles.

A strategic thinker, with experience in managing businesses, start ups, business transformation and projects, Otto’s vision for ASATA is to champion the organisation’s Members as the consumer’s channel of choice when buying travel products and services.

Key to this, he says, is his willingness to listen and take on board the views and opinions of others in an effort find the best possible working solutions to our industry needs.

Otto is known for his strong commercial acumen, having acquired valuable management experience both locally and abroad. While his experience spans from operations and sales and marketing to contract management and product development, Otto’s strengths undoubtedly lie in his people leadership, strategic planning and implementation and change management skills.

Over the next few months Otto will focus on familiarising himself with ASATA’s operations, getting to know the committees and Members throughout the country. Members are thus encouraged to attend regional meetings to meet Otto, hear his vision for ASATA and share their particular views and issues with him.

Temporarily on hold…

This blog is temporarily on hold while the ASATA Board is in the process of appointing a new CEO.