The Travel Institute appoints Gary Pollard, CTC, as its new Chairman of the Board

The Travel Institute appoints Gary Pollard, CTC, as its new Chairman of the Board

Appointment continues strong leadership for the non-profit educator


FRAMINGHAM, MA, December 15, 2021 – The Travel Institute announces Gary Pollard, CTC, has been appointed as its new chairman of the board, effective January 1, 2022. Pollard, a board member since 2009 and owner of Foster City-based Ambassador Tours, succeeds Brian Robb, CTIE, who will retire after serving as chairman for the past six years.

“It’s really about the pursuit of excellence for our industry,” Pollard said, explaining why he’s embracing the opportunity to lead The Travel Institute’s mission to advance travel agent professionalism through education. “From the start of my travel career, I have always believed in the value of travel agents as well-rounded, comprehensive professionals. Today, there’s a golden opportunity for agents in the ‘COVID recovery era’ to show up better prepared, educated and positioned to provide the value consumers need more than ever,” reflected Pollard, referring to The Travel Institute’s recently published “Seven Reasons to Use a Travel Agent.”

Pollard, who earned his CTC in 1988, gained an appreciation for higher education and a desire to give back from his parents. In his new role as chairman, Pollard said he is lending a “strong and critical travel agent voice” in his role leading The Travel Institute’s board of directors. Pollard said priorities heading into 2022 include continued collaboration with industry leaders on the value of professionalism, an increased emphasis on continuing education for new and experienced agents, and greater recognition of the value agents certified by The Travel Institute, nearly 27,000 since 1964, bring to consumers.

“Gary is passionate about ensuring quality agent education across the industry no matter the experience level,” said Rick Meadows, CTC, fellow board member, retired president of Seabourn and industry advisor. “He knows firsthand the value continued learning brings to agents, their clients and our industry and has great insight on delivering it,” continued Meadows, who encouraged all agents to be part of The Travel Institute family.

Importantly, Pollard recognized Robb’s contributions as chair over the years, crediting him as an “outstanding leader, mentor and good friend” who has influenced various successes for The Travel Institute, including a pivotal industry survey providing statistical proof that agents certified through The Travel Institute make more money; the launch of digital credentials, a marketing tool to elevate awareness of an agent’s certification; and this year’s Certified Travel Agent Directory, a tool to help consumers find agents certified by The Travel Institute. 

Most recently serving as vice chair, Pollard will continue to work closely with board members and staff alike to share his agent voice. “A colleague and a friend over many years, Gary’s long history of success in his own business and as an industry leader make him the right person at the right time for this role. I look forward to working with him to ensure The Travel Institute continues to make a positive impact on agents, the industry, and the travelers we serve,” shared Diane Petras, CTIE, president, The Travel Institute.

Along with Chairman Gary Pollard, CTC, The Travel Institute Board of Directors executive committee includes: 

  • Rick Meadows, CTC, recently retired president, Seabourn, and industry advisor
  • Patrick McGovern, CTIE, director of business development, Ascedia
  • Drew Daly, CTIE, senior vice president & general manager, World Travel Holdings B2B Division 


Additional board members are: 

  • Scott Ahlsmith, CTC, chief operating officer, Phoenix 180
  • Rick Baron, CTC, former managing director, Global Sales, Tauck, Inc. 
  • Laurie Bohn, CTIE, senior director, National Accounts, Silversea Cruises, LTD. 
  • Jackie Friedman, CTIE, president, Nexion Travel Group 
  • Evan McElligott, CTA, president, Longer Vacations 
  • Anita Pagliasso, CTIE, vice president, industry relations, KHM Travel
  • Brian Robb, CTIE, founder and principal, The Robb Aspect
  • Jennifer Simmons, CTIE, president, Marketexture, Inc.
  • Debbie Wilson, CTA, professor and department chair, Los Medanos College
  • Horst Schulze, founding president and chief operating officer, Ritz-Carlton; board member emeritus 


About The Travel Institute

A collaborative industry effort created in 1964, The Travel Institute has continuously evolved to maintain its role as the global leader in travel industry education and certification while staying true to its mission: dedicated solely to advancing the professionalism of both agents and industry leaders in support of individual and industry success. A non-profit, independent organization, The Travel Institute also works with leaders throughout the industry to create and deliver relevant, meaningful and rigorous coursework. Using exclusive proctored, closed-book testing to ensure its graduates earn credentials that demonstrate the highest standards of expertise and service, The Travel Institute has certified nearly 27,000 Certified Travel Associate (CTA®), Certified Travel Counselor (CTC®), and Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE®) graduates and also administers the Travel Agent Proficiency, or TAPSM, exam to confirm students new to the industry demonstrate a mastery of travel industry basics. A trusted partner to industry suppliers and educational institutions, The Travel Institute has trained hundreds of thousands more through additional courses, webinars, and in its online Premium Member Lounge. Throughout North America, many successful agents and high-profile leaders credit their success to coursework from The Travel Institute. Learn more at The Travel Institute


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