ASTA Kicks Off Join and Be Counted Membership Drive

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Tony Gonchar, CEO, American Society of Travel Agents
Tony Gonchar, CEO, American Society of Travel Agents

This past Monday, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) kicked off its newest campaign, Join and Be Counted, an industry-wide effort to expand its membership base and educate the industry on the importance of ASTA’s advocacy work at local, state and federal levels.

The week-long, multi-media campaign involves a series of targeted pushes by leaders of the industry’s top consortia, franchises and host agencies to their members. These messages will describe the many benefits of ASTA membership and how ASTA membership complements agents’ current consortia/franchise relationships. ASTA’s focus is advocacy and providing vital industry information and analysis to help agents adapt to change, trade press coverage to educate suppliers about the value of agents, and outreach through social media to keep member agents aware of new trends they must know to thrive in today’s marketplace.

“This campaign is about participation. We want to ensure the industry—both agents and suppliers—understands the unique value ASTA delivers on their behalf and that is in the form of a creating and maintaining a healthy retail travel environment in which to conduct business,” says ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar.

In addition to the Join and Be Counted campaign, ASTA has made a name for itself as the only trade organization to support and protect the entire travel industry from excessive taxation, burdensome regulation and unnecessary legislation—saving travel agents thousands of dollars in the process.

For example, ASTA, working with the U.S. Travel Insurance Association (USTIA), succeeded in deregulating the role of agents in the sale of travel insurance in Florida, Kentucky and Minnesota, freeing agents from costly and unnecessary regulations. The ASTA-USTIA collaboration continues to seek passage of deregulation bills in the remaining 47 states. Through the work of ASTA, local members and allies, taxes on agent markups were recently defeated in Connecticut, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, sparing agents in those states from being taxed twice and sometimes even a third time on their fees. And recently, ASTA’s work led to the defeat of a regulation that would have required travel agent registration in Washington.

“ASTA is tackling the very real threats that negatively impact travel agents’ bottom lines. When it comes to protecting agents from anti-competitive taxes, double- and triple-taxation and burdensome regulations, ASTA is the face and the voice of travel agents in state capitols across the country, continuously lobbying to protect their interests,” adds Gonchar. “ASTA does the representation work so travel agents can focus on what is most important to them—growing their businesses.”

For more information on the Join and Be Counted campaign, please visit asta.org/joinandbecounted.