The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) again blasted iTrek, the Australian travel insurance provider whose "Travel Agents Are Dead" film contest drew international criticism. ASTA withdrew its statement of last week when ASTA applauded the cancellation of the promotion.
ASTA said its action was based on information provided “in the good faith belief that iTrek would cancel the promotion,” but said “that information, it turned out, was mistaken," as iTrek has continued its negative campaign against travel agents through a press release and additional postings on its website.
“Originally, we and the entire travel industry understood that iTrek would be dropping its film contest, an announcement that was roundly applauded by the industry at-large," said ASTA chair and president Chris Russo. "Instead, a subsequent press release and language on iTrek’s Web site have shown that far from dropping the campaign, the company’s retraction was used to continue its attack. In light of this, we are withdrawing our previous statement. ASTA welcomes positive competition throughout the travel industry. It makes us all stronger. iTrek’s campaign, in our opinion, does the opposite. We continue to be grateful to TravelGuard for its efforts to bring this issue to a close. TravelGuard has proven its support of the travel agent community and for this, we are thankful.”
Travel Guard issued a statement rejecting iTrek’s action. Travel Guard is affiliated with Chartis, who appointed iTrek Pty Ltd as its Australian representative.
Currently, iTrek's site continues to showcase the contest. Below is a republishing of the copy on their contest page.
"A CRIME HAS TAKEN PLACE. THE RUMOURS ARE TRUE."
Unfortunately "The Travel Agent Is Dead", is dead. The competition has come to a tragic and premature end due to the unprecedented hostile response from Travel Agents in both the USA and Australia.
There has been a biblical over reaction by Travel Agents to this marvelous competition. The pressure that was put on our Underwriter to withdraw support for this competition was of the highest degree and due to this relentless onslaught we are unable to continue with the campaign.
"WHY ARE THE TRAVEL AGENTS SO UPSET?"
Well the truth of the matter is that the underlying message that the campaign was attempting to expose was that the Travel Agents in Australia are over charging for travel insurance sales. Most Travel Agents in Australia are enjoying commissions of around 50 percent. Itrek is up to 50 percent cheaper than a Travel Agent and they did not want this message to be heard by you, the Australian public. This will be exposed.
Itrek travel insurance was bringing you an exciting new film competition, "The Travel Agent Is Dead". Amazing prizes to be won and all 10 finalists were to be invited to attend the finalists film showing at the Chauvel Cinema, Paddington, Sydney. It was going to be very big indeed. The cinemas screenings will now be cancelled and the event will no longer be held.
However, at Itrek, we appreciate the time and effort spent by a large number of you already. For this reason we will still be judging the existing entries and we will still be giving away the prizes listed below. If you are half way through filming then please finish off your TVC and send it to [email protected] by the end of March 2010.