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February 23, 2015, Alexandria, Va. – ASTA Small Business Network now represents 45 active Chapters across the country with the newest addition of the Southeast Louisiana chapter representing nearly 60 new SBN members. Robin Beard, Owner of Ropakele Travel and Louise Rumfello, Owner of Your Magical Vacations are co-Directors of the Chapter and manage the chapter activities under the direction of their leadership team.

“We are honored that SBN President, Ann van Leeuwen made the trip to Louisiana to speak to our chapter. She truly made us feel special and valued” commented Louise Beard, Chapter co-Director. “I’m really excited that so many advisors have recognized the value of SBN and have signed up for membership; we are approaching 60 members which will make us one of the largest chapters in the nation.”

Adhering to SBN’s chapter criteria and guidelines the Southeast Louisiana Chapter was newly welcomed into SBN officially on February 12, 2015 when SBN President, Ann van Leeuwen welcomed them in person at their first SBN meeting held in Baton Rouge that evening with 45 of its 58 members in attendance. Guest speakers and strategic supporters of SBN included Alice McCalla, National Director of Industry Affairs at Sandals and Business Development Manager Melissa O’Hara. Formerly an OSSN Chapter, the chapter leadership team decided to move the chapter to SBN membership after carefully reviewing SBN’s membership benefits and Chapter guidelines.

“We have an energetic and committed membership. Our new leadership team is committed to becoming experts on each of the SBN benefits which will ensure a very engaged and active chapter,” expressed Louise Rumsfello, chapter co- director. “SBN has so many benefits that will help our members – most especially help with attracting high level supplier speakers to our chapter meetings and providing the popular nightly SBN Digest which has already proven to be a tremendous resource of travel advice for all of us.”

Prior to the meeting, the newly formed Chapter Leadership Team met to discuss logistics of this new blossoming chapter. The Southeast Louisiana Chapter meetings are monthly and held on the first Thursday of each month.

“The addition of the Southeast Louisiana Chapter is a natural fit within SBN given their professionalism, dedication and representation of all career travel consultants,” said Ann van Leeuwen. “We are thrilled they made the decision to join SBN and embrace the many positive membership benefits SBN has to offer.”
Over the past two years, SBN Chapters have held 288 meetings across the country, allowing travel consultants to network with other like-minded- travel professionals and to stay abreast of industry issues and supplier product offerings. Chapter Directors meet with SBN headquarters quarterly in addition to two in person meetings a year to help guide the mission and direction of SBN. SBN membership represents just fewer than 1900 travel professionals. Dues were increased from $145 to $165 at the beginning of the year and two years ago elevated its membership criteria in order to attract the career travel consultants. Community, Education and Training for the career travel consultant remains the focal point of SBN membership. Membership dues in SBN is $165.00 annually, for more information on joining SBN visit astasmallbusinessnetwork.org.

ASTA Small Business Network (SBN) is the travel industry’s leading national trade association representing independent contractors, outside sales consultants, cruise and tour oriented consultants, 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 consultant. SBN is an affiliate of ASTA, the American Society of Travel Advisors, the world’s largest travel trade association.