Hand-selected by Virgin Galactic, Araya joins an impressive group of 56 previous ‘ASAs’ – all members of leading luxury travel network, Virtuoso – who pioneered the ASA Program when Virgin Galactic first appointed Virtuoso as its exclusive retail sales channel throughout The Americas in 2006. As a new ‘ASA,’ Ezana joins an elite group of just 120 travel consultants around the globe that Virgin Galactic have selected to take consumer deposits for their spaceflights.
Before being entrusted to represent the Virgin Galactic brand and one of the most exciting products in the travel industry, Ezana first engaged in a rigorous application process. Now through the vetting process, Ezana has undergone intensive training with Virgin Galactic in Los Angeles on December 4, 2009, ensuring he has the expert knowledge to guide prospective space customers. Having successfully completed his training, Ezana joined approximately 100 other ASA’s from around the world at Virgin Galactic’s second annual Global ASA Forum.
Next on Ezana’s busy agenda was a special invitation to a Virgin Galactic groundbreaking event. On December 7, 2009, Virgin Galactic revealed SpaceShipTwo, the first space vehicle of its kind developed to take private passengers to space. Ezana was amongst only 100 travel consultants from around the world to attend this historic event in Mojave, CA, hosted by Virgin Founder and Chairman Sir Richard Branson, along with renowned aircraft designer Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites.
Carolyn Wincer, Head of Astronaut Sales for Virgin Galactic, said, “We are pleased to welcome Ezana Araya into our ‘Accredited Space Agent’ Program. Since selecting Virtuoso as our exclusive retail network, we have developed a fantastic relationship with their ASA members, and we are delighted with how they’re performing. The SpaceShipTwo unveiling in December followed by its comprehensive test flight program brings us even closer to the first commercial passenger flight, and the time is right to increase the number of ‘ASAs’ within the Virtuoso network.”
“We are proud of Ezana and the 18 individuals who have been selected as Virgin Galactic’s newest ‘Accredited Space Agents.’ The fact that the ASA Program continues to expand shows the interest and excitement for space travel.” said Virtuoso CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch. Continued Upchurch, “With a product as unique and innovative as space travel, Virgin Galactic could have easily decided to maintain an inside sales force. The fact that Galactic selected Virtuoso members to become their exclusive sales representatives indicates the trust that Virgin has in the Virtuoso network, as well as travel advisors. This relationship not only benefits our advisors, it elevates the entire travel agency profession to a new level. The introduction of SpaceShipTwo only reinforces that Virtuoso and its ‘ASAs’ are part of something historical. Suborbital space travel is one step closer to becoming a reality, and now we have even more qualified experts, like Ezana to help people realize this dream.”
To date, the world has seen fewer than 500 astronauts, but with the launch of Virgin Galactic spaceflights that will soon change. Together with Virgin Galactic, the ‘Accredited Space Agents’ are poised to turn the dream of going to space into a reality for their clients. The once-in-a-lifetime experience includes Astronaut training, ‘G force’ acclimatization and a sensational spaceflight lasting over two hours. At US$200,000 per ticket, Virgin Galactic’s flights are a mere fraction of the $20 million price tag associated with other commercial space tourism. And while Virgin Galactic’s technology makes space travel more attainable for the general public, it takes a talented and skilled travel consultant, like Ezana to sell a trip to space.
About Andavo Travel, Inc.
Led by Brenda Rivers, owner and CEO, Andavo Travel is headquartered in Denver, with offices in San Francisco and Salt Lake City, Utah. Andavo Travel is a $250 million travel management firm and includes Andavo Meetings and Incentives, a leading event management company. Andavo Travel is uniquely structured to provide integrated business, leisure/adventure, and meeting & incentive travel solutions through a powerful family of companies that operate independently yet completely collectively. Andavo Travel is the 14th largest travel management firm in the United States, and the largest independent travel management firm in Colorado and in the San Francisco North Bay area.
About Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic was launched by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in 2004 with the objective of developing commercial space vehicles which would transform the safety, cost and environmental impact associated with access to space. As well as offering 1000’s of ordinary people the chance to experience space for themselves, the system will be used for space and high altitude science research and potentially developed to launch small satellites. In the future the company expects to move on to the development of orbital vehicles capable of carrying people, including the possibility of offering very fast trans –continental flights around the planet.
Virgin Galactic’s vehicles use the design and technology developed by the renowned aeronautical engineer, Burt Rutan, for SpaceShipOne, which as the world’s first privately built manned spaceship, flew safely to space and back three times in 2004.
This remarkable and unique project is now in its final stages with the test flight programme of the commercial vehicles underway. Already, approximately 300 people from around the world have paid approaching $40m in deposits, representing $60m of ticket sales, to guarantee an early seat.
Virgin Galactic’s guiding star is safety. In addition to a system that is proven and safer by design, the vehicles are being put through a comprehensive and exhaustive test flight programme before the inaugural commercial flight takes place on which Sir Richard Branson and his family will fly.
Virgin Galactic astronauts will be prepared and trained for an experience of sensory overload, from the incredible acceleration at launch through to the “out of seat” zero gravity experienced in the blackness of space whilst looking through large windows at the breathtaking views of the Blue Planet below.
All of Virgin Galactic’s first astronauts will be pioneers in a new industry which in the future will allow us to make better use of space to improve life here on Earth.
Virtuoso is the industry’s leading leisure travel network. This by-invitation-only organization comprises more than 6,000 elite travel advisors associated with over 300 agencies in 22 countries in North and South America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, as well as over 1,000 of the world’s best travel providers and premier destinations.
As a result of their membership in Virtuoso, independent travel agencies receive sales, marketing and technology support, specialized training and accreditation programs, as well as exclusive services and products. Being a client of a Virtuoso travel advisor means your travels will be customized to your specific desires by a foremost expert, and that you’ll be recognized as one of the most prestigious guests in the world with all the privileged access, perks and service that implies.
The network’s member agencies generate over $5.1 billion annually in travel sales, making the group the most powerful in the vacation travel segment. Our relationships with the finest travel companies provide the network’s affluent clientele with exclusive amenities, rare experiences and privileged access.