BTC: ASTA On Target With Response to President Obama

Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), offered praise to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) for its timely and pertinent response to President Obama's remarks last week on the impact of technology on travel agents.

In a statement Mitchell said the BTC read with interest stories and postings in the travel industry trade press regarding President Obama’s"well-intentioned" comments about technology and travel agents.

"One central element would appear missing from the discussion and that is what we think inside the industry about this issue is largely irrelevant," the BTC said.

"Meetings destinations like Las Vegas no doubt vividly remember the immediate and painful impact on business from the President’s words a couple of years ago, as did the corporate aviation business. Road warriors, once-a-year leisure travelers and young, up and coming business travelers recently heard over and again the President’s influential comments about travel agents. ASTA responded early in the news cycle to help prevent a perception of travel agents as yesterday’s resource from becoming an intractable false reality in the marketplace,"the BTC continued.

In BTC’s view, "ASTA did the right thing to safeguard the businesses of its members. Likewise, Travel Leaders (the consortia) also fired back at the President, ostensibly to protect its business. It’s simply a prudent and necessary business response. To its credit ASTA’s strategy seems to have succeeded as evidenced by consumer business press coverage that included ASTA’s perspective in publications such as USA TODAY, The Economist and The Los Angeles Times."

"Industry insiders screeching about business models, technology, new paradigms, erroneous statistics and the mistaken notion that ASTA is yearning for a bygone era are, in BTC’s view, inwardly focused and overlook the central point of ASTA’s effective response to a potential threat to their members’ businesses. Congratulations to Tony Gonchar (ASTA's CEO) and ASTA for providing the precisely required leadership at the exact moment it was essential."

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