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ASTA Offers Agents Advice on Economic RecessionDecember 9, 2008 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
What can travel agents do to combat the recession? In an open letter to ASTA members, President and Chairman Chris Russo said ASTA was providing new tools to help agents cope with shortfalls in consumer discretionary spending. He warns that agents won't be hearing positive economic forecasts from economists any time soon and that travel budgets may be the first to fall by the wayside. Agents must be proactive, Russo says.
“Even without the concern of travel cutbacks, travel agencies face new struggles with our day-to-day business operations," he said. "Thanks to today's economic challenges and particularly the reduced availability of credit, some suppliers, including tour companies, may be unable to meet short-term financial obligations, and while these difficulties may be only temporary if the supplier is otherwise healthy, it puts an extra onus on travel agents."
Russo said ASTA is actively pushing for the creation of a new federal government program to provide direct low-interest-rate loans to cash-strapped small business owners. And ASTA will hold a Webinar on December 16 at 4 p.m. EST to provide members with sound business advice and tips that they can implement immediately. Russo also urged members to use the resources available online at www.ASTA.org. This includes:
Investing in a Recession: Tips for guiding business through an economic downturn.
Financial Benchmarking Tools: Agents can learn where they stand compared to competition and where they can make changes to increase efficiency and cut costs.
Work-Share Programs: Are they a viable alternative to layoffs?
Developing a Business Plan: For agents who haven't looked at their business plan lately, the current downturn may be the perfect time to reassess company goals and objectives.
Virtual seminars are also available on such topics as: How to Sell When Nobody's Buying; Surviving & Thriving in the Economic Slow Down—Strategies and Tactics for Building Business Relationships that Close Sales; and Marketing Tips, Tricks and Tools That Work Today.
“Now more than ever is the time to be proactive," said Russo. "Whether it's exploring a new niche and customer base or reassuring your current clients that you stand ready with sound travel advice and information, don't make the mistake of hunkering down. Instead, take advantage of this time to invest and grow and know that ASTA is with you every step of the way.” Russo said.