The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is going beyond the halls of congress making strides protecting the industry with consumer awareness efforts.
Following the negative Woman’s Day magazine article earlier this year entitled “10 Things Travel Agents Won’t Tell You,” later changed to “9 Things…,” ASTA created its own version of the article entitled, “8 Reasons Why Booking with a Travel Professional Creates Value.” Some of the points made by Paul Ruden, ASTA’s senior v.p., legal & industry affairs, argue against the idea that agents “make major commission…” saying that cruise commissions are going down and repeat business is what helps agents be successful. Also, the idea that agents are “best for milestone trips” is true when it comes to booking weddings and key trips, but Ruden says they can also be valuable for weekend getaways.
ASTA also challenged the magazine’s senior editor to show how valuable travel agents are to consumers. In response, Woman’s Day published an article on Sept. 17 featuring three ASTA members, titled “How to Take Your Dream Vacation on a Budget.”
In addition, ASTA worked with reporter Charisse Jones on a feature story for “CBS This Morning” developing a report on the future of the travel agent industry. In the report, Jones says that agents “serve a vital service,” and her co-host Gayle King says that she “swears by travel agents.”
In other news, Ruden responded to a recent article on the site CareerCast.com defending the travel agent industry. The article, “When All Else Fails, Consider a Useless Job,” labeled travel agents as “useless.” Ruden defended the state of the industry saying that travel agents are “alive and well,” and that they have adapted to the Internet using technology to better serve clients. Ruden explains how the role has changed over time but that in 2012 alone, there were 8,000 U.S. travel agency firms employing 105,000 people, and those agencies sold $86 billion worth of air travel—which was 64 percent of the market. He also sited a 2011 Oprah Winfrey segment, the “Happiest Jobs in America,” that stated agents as some of the happiest professionals in America.
ASTA’s role as the global advocate for travel also resulted in the production of public television segments highlighting the unparalleled value of working with a travel agent. Several ASTA travel agent members are featured in the project which helps spread the message: “Without a travel agent, you are on your own.” These 4- to 6-minute clips will air in early 2014 on PBS stations across the country.
Be one of the first 100 agencies to join ASTA and save $50 on your first year of ASTA membership. Use promo code Marriott13. For more information, contact ASTA’s membership department at (800) ASK-ASTA or visit asta.org.