2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Sponsored by the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation

About the Award

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award was established by the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation to promote entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial spirit in the travel and hospitality industry through recognition of innovators who have either established their own business or who have been responsible for significant entrepreneurial initiatives within an existing organization.
Each year, the Foundation, in conjunction with ASTA, selects one person or organization that best exemplifies this spirit of entrepreneurship to receive the Award and a $10,000 cash prize.


All travel agents, agency managers, suppliers, and others in the travel and hospitality industry are eligible to receive the Award.

Evaluation Criteria

Nominees for the Award will be evaluated based on consideration of eight benchmarks demonstrating various aspects of the successful candidate’s innovative and entrepreneurial approach to the business and its future. The benchmarks, in no particular order, are as follows:
  1. Sustainability. How many years has the nominee been active in the travel industry? How many consumers or companies use the nominee’s innovative product or service?
  2. Evolution. How has the nominee or the nominee’s company adapted to change in the industry or market, and to changes in technology? Why was this important and how was it accomplished? What steps are taken to ensure that the product or service remains relevant?
  3. Experiential Travel. Does the nominee’s product or service have an experiential fit, focus or component connecting the experience to history, people or culture? Describe and explain its importance in today’s world and for the future of travel.
  4. Proven Impact. How has the product or service already had a demonstrable impact on travelers and the industry as a whole? Why will the innovation continue to impact travelers in the future?
  5. Curation. Does the nominee envision himself or herself as a travel curator, one who makes travel more meaningful for the traveler? If so, please tell us and explain why this is important to the nominee.
  6. Marketing. Describe how the nominee markets or merchandises its company and its products or services. How does the nominee differentiate itself from others in the industry? Has social media factored into the marketing focus?
  7. Growth. Has the innovation had a positive impact on the company’s sales, profitability, or market share? Has the product or service spawned imitators?
  8. Technology. Describe the technology behind the product or service. For example, does the solution include the use of mobile apps or similar recent innovations? How has product usability been a factor?

Required Submission

Persons or organizations that wish to be considered for the Award must submit the following:
  • The completed online application setting forth the nominee’s name and/or company name and contact information;
  • A narrative statement, not to exceed 500 words, describing the nominee’s contribution to entrepreneurship in the industry and demonstrating how it relates to the benchmarks described above;
  • A URL linking to a webpage containing a video, of no more than five minutes in length, which describes and/or demonstrates the innovative product or service and its value when viewed in light of the benchmarks; and
  • Certification that, if selected as a finalist, the nominee will participate in the “Shark Tank” session at the ASTA Global Convention in San Diego, California, August 27-29, 2017.

Selection of Finalists

A selection committee comprised of qualified travel industry professionals jointly chosen by ASTA and the Foundation will review each complete submission that is received on or before the entry deadline. Applying the stated evaluation criteria, each committee member will then rank the submissions in order from highest to lowest.

Persons or organizations submitting the entries receiving the highest, second highest, and third highest aggregate scores will be designated as finalists and invited to compete in the “Shark Tank” session at ASTA Global Convention. The non-finalist with the highest aggregate score will be designated as an alternate and will be invited to participate in the session in the event one of the finalists notifies us that he or she is unable to attend.

The Competition

New for 2017, the three finalists will appear at ASTA Global Convention to participate in a live, “Shark Tank”-style competition, tentatively scheduled for Monday, August 28 at 4:00 p.m. After a brief introduction of the participants by the moderator, each finalist will be provided approximately five minutes to make his or her presentation. Following the presentations, the panel of judges will then question each finalist regarding the strengths, weaknesses, and other aspects of their innovation, product, or concept, and why his or her submission is worthy of being judged the year’s best representation of entrepreneurship in the industry.

At the conclusion of the questioning, the judges each cast a vote for one of the finalists. In addition, each member of the audience will be entitled to cast one vote, which in the aggregate shall be considered the vote of a fourth “super judge.” After tallying the votes, the moderator will announce the winner, who will then be presented with the award.

Entry Deadline

Applications must be received by ASTA no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on July 31, 2017. Incomplete applications, or applications received after the stated deadline, will not receive consideration.