SoCal ASTA Diamond Awards April 25th, 2017 Gala Event


SoCal ASTA Diamond Awards 2016D75_6659-Edit Diamond Entire honorees 2016BEVERLY HILLS, CA, January 28 – The Southern California chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents (SoCal ASTA) honored industry legends Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso, and Edie Rodriguez, CEO of Crystal Cruises, with its prestigious Diamond Award at the organization’s annual black tie event held January 23 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. 

Upchurch and Rodriguez were recognized for their outstanding, unique, lasting, and extraordinary contributions to the travel industry and for their ongoing support of ASTA on a national level.

From agency owners to top front-line travel advisors, the annual event was attended by more than 270 of the “who’s who” in the luxury travel industry in Southern California.

The evening’s other notable award winners were:

• SoCal ASTA Susan D. Tanzman Advocate Award: Assembly member Jacqui Irwin from California’s 44th Assembly District for her recently authored bill AB1107 that updated the California Seller of Travel law;
• SoCal ASTA Travel Agent of the Year: Bell O. de Souza, Mansour Travel Company
• SoCal ASTA Allied Cruise Member of the Year: Susie Hogan, Oceania Cruises
• SoCal ASTA Allied Land Member of the Year: Joshua Poole, Starwood Hotels & Resorts
• SoCal ASTA Allied Air Member of the Year: Ted Brady, Emirates Airlines
• SoCal Allied Travel Insurance Member of the Year: Pam Ross, Travel Guard

SoCal ASTA President Pamela Irwin thanked SoCal ASTA members and volunteers for their continued support and for their efforts in making the evening a success. She also thanked the Beverly Hills Hotel for hosting the Diamond Awards for the third consecutive year. Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin presented each honoree with a Certificate of Recognition from the California Legislative Assembly. 

SoCal ASTA will donate a portion of the proceeds from the evening’s silent auction to ASTAPAC, California Coalition of Travel Organizations, and several local charities including: St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, Chrysalis and The Fred Jordan Mission.


More than 175 travel agents, owners, suppliers, and consortia executives attended the Southern California Chapter of ASTA’s 80th anniversary gala on January 17 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The black-tie gathering is SoCal ASTA’s premier annual event that showcases the chapter’s accomplishments and honors the significant achievements of several of its members.

2015 Diamond Awards 201 Past Diamond Toast from rt Vicki Freed Wido Schaefer, Marc Mancini Susan Tanzman Ed and Lynn Hogan Joe Watters Pamela Irwin

This year’s honorees include:

  • The late Jerry Healy of Pleasant Holidays – 2014 SoCal ASTA Diamond Award, for his untiring support of the travel agent community, his passion for life, and his unwavering support of the travel industry in Southern California and SoCal ASTA.
  • Miriam Rand – 2014 SoCal ASTA Diamond Award, for her commitment to travel and strong support of the travel industry in Southern California and SoCal ASTA. Known as the “First Lady of Luxury Travel,” Rand is 98 years young and owned and worked at Rand Fields Travel in Beverly Hills for 60 years before retiring.
  • Julie Johnson of Azzurro Travel – 2014 SoCal ASTA Travel Agent of the Year, for her time and commitment devoted to the chapter for more than four years. She is the former chapter vice president.
  • Nancy Lovino of Paul Gaugin Cruises – 2014 SoCal ASTA Allied Member of the Year, for her unwavering support of ASTA and SoCal ASTA.
  • Princess Cruises – 2014 SoCal ASTA Compass Award, for the best travel agent training program through its OneSource Academy educational resource.
  • Roger Block and Travel Leaders Board of Directors – 2014 SoCal ASTA Advocate of the Year, for their commitment to ASTA by requiring their members to belong to the travel industry’s premier professional organization. Signature Travel Network also received this award for going above and beyond in requiring its members to join ASTA.

In his role as chairman of ASTA, Block spoke to guests about the importance of ASTA membership and what the organization does for the industry and every American citizen by protecting their travel rights.

The evening began with a champagne reception and silent auction followed by recognition of past chapter presidents in attendance: Ada Brown of Seaside Travel, Klaus Billep of Universal Travel System, Stan Jones of Harcourt Travel, and Susan Tanzman of Martin’s Travel and Tours.  SoCal ASTA Chapter President Pamela Irwin, CTC, and previous SoCal ASTA Diamond honorees Wido Schaefer, Vicki Freed, Susan Tanzman, Marc Mancini, Joe Watters, and Ed and Lynn Hogan led an Irish toast and blessing to Diamond honoree Jimmy Murphy who passed away in December.2015 Diamond Awards 248 Pamela Irwin Roger Block