ASTA Expo Recap: Travel Trends and Agent Training

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Nina Meyer, president & chair of ASTA, spoke at the ASTA Trade Retailing and Destinations Expo, Sept. 6-9.

Approximately 1,300 travel agents, suppliers and other industry officials met in Los Angeles from Sept. 6-9 for ASTA’s annual Trade Retailing and Destinations Expo held in the city’s downtown convention center.

The 3-day event connected thousands of travel professionals for what Nina Meyer, ASTA’s president and chairperson, described as “the opportunity for qualified travel professionals to meet and enhance their skills.”

The expo, now approaching its third decade, was primarily focused on four main objectives: superior technology training by social media professionals and Microsoft experts who instructed agents on methods to raise sales and marketing efforts to new levels using the latest technology; strategic marketing sessions to expand revenue sources with new education methods; exclusive network opportunities; and a blogger show to discuss new travel industry online resources with specialists.

According to Meyer, two of the most important items discussed during the expo included a Hispanic Caucus where “leading executives involved in the Hispanic market discussed the trends, challenges and opportunities in Hispanic tourism, as well as developed plans to better serve the Hispanic travel community. The second point stressed ASTA’s commitment to hire veterans.”

The Hispanic market, Meyer added, is the largest growing travel segment, while the veteran issue is ripe for development and the travel industry should be ready to welcome them.

Indeed, according to 2011 estimates, Hispanics are becoming the fastest growing consumer force in the United States with a purchasing power in excess of $1.1 trillion.

As for veterans, Meyer said that ASTA “is working with all our different entities to hire veterans to fill positions as they become available to help them re-establish. We’ll offer courses to train veterans to fill jobs.”

She continued that programs have been launched to “train veterans to learn the entrepreneurship within the travel field.”

Meyer is optimistic that the travel industry will continue to grow by bringing in “new people who are able to make decent wages.”

She added that this year’s conference far exceeded the previous year’s, which was held in Las Vegas.

“Becoming a Travel Agent” Guidebook
ASTA has also recently finished an extensive update to its guidebook, “Becoming a Travel Agent.” Referencing the guide, Meyer says, “As a travel agent myself, I know the tremendous rewards that come with the job. The opportunity to assist others in discovering the world around them and making their travel dreams a reality is deeply gratifying.”

“Becoming a Travel Agent” offers inside information about the travel agency industry plus a variety of resources to help agents begin their careers, and now also includes updated industry statistics in such new sections as:

• Various travel agency industry models (traditional, online, independent, travel management company)
• Size and scope of the U.S. travel agency industry
• Travel agent salary data
• Agency revenue models
• Credentialing
• State regulation of travel sellers

Additional topics that are also featured include where agents can obtain training, agent testing and certifications, and agent scholarships, along with a comprehensive listing of resources and a glossary of terms.

To obtain a copy of the “Becoming a Travel Agent,” or for more information, visit