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October 16, 2013, Alexandria, Va. - ASTA Small Business Network (SBN) is opening its membership to all independent travel advisors in Canada after confirming the need by Canadian travel professionals for its training and travel programs.

President Ann van Leeuwen says SBN is ready to deliver its services across Canada after testing a model in which it teamed with host agency WD World Travel Ltd. in Vancouver to include SBN membership in host agency fees. Van Leeuwen says SBN membership will now be offered directly, online, to advisors and can be co-branded and promoted by host agencies across the country.

The association is seeking strategic partnerships with host agencies, travel associations, suppliers and travel media who want to expand experiences and extend education for independent advisors.

“We see a major need for an association that represents and brings together all career travel advisors who run their own businesses,” says President van Leeuwen. “Canada’s host agencies do a good job of providing basic education and travel for their own members and advisors; we want to offer, through them, even more training updates and extra, affordable travel experiences for their independent advisors.” She adds, “SBN partnership can be a great win-win for travel industry players across Canada and a superb support for thousands of entrepreneurial travel advisors.”

“Our experience with WD World Travel has been very rewarding. We learned a lot and thank the host agency group for its support,” says van Leeuwen.

She says a major finding was that independent advisors want and need access to all the education, training, travel and peer advice they can get in order to provide the best service to clients. SBN can connect advisors with the North American travel community. SBN members get forums, daily industry updates, ideas, innovations and materials to improve their businesses and profits.

SBN expands access to educational travel through their Land FAMs, Destinationals, and SBN’s popular Seminars-At-Sea cruises. SBN extends education through supplier and industry webinars, conferences, road show training and Chapter events.

“I have said before that SBN and host agencies should be working together more aggressively to start thinking about ways to address the industry’s common problems,” van Leeuwen says. “SBN also enables suppliers to explain their products and services to independent advisors through webinars and meetings. We also want to work closely with Canada’s vibrant travel media because they are so supportive of education and travel opportunities for advisors.”

ASTA Small Business Network aims to become a global organization to bring more professionalism, credibility and public and industry recognition to the fast-growing independent travel advisor sector. SBN has attracted a number of Canadian advisors with the goal of setting up Canadian Chapters in the near future.

SBN is the travel industry’s leading national trade association representing independent contractors, outside sales advisors, cruise and tour oriented advisors, group oriented travel professionals and traditional ARC-appointed travel agencies that provide services and support to such professionals. Established in 1986, SBN’s mission is to represent the interest of independent travel entrepreneurs and to promote professionalism and recognition for the professional independent advisor. SBN is an affiliate of ASTA, the American Society of Travel Advisors, the world’s largest travel trade association.