The newly restructured ASTA is gaining strong support among travel agencies and consortia and is emerging as the travel agency industry's first line of defense and representation, according to Bill Maloney, executive vice president and COO. Maloney said that ASTA's restructuring over the past three years was complete and that ASTA is clearly focused on its mission of protecting and promoting agents while providing tools to ensure members survival and prosperity.
"ASTA has been rebranded and repositioned to meet industry needs," Maloney said, crediting ASTA's Core and Premium members as well as consortia, suppliers and the Allied Marketing Council for their support and input.
Maloney joined with Cheryl Hudak, ASTA's president and CEO, to update Travel Agent and other media on ASTA's progress to goals. "We urge agents who are not ASTA members to take a new look at ASTA's value. And to get involved."
ASTA will play a key role in monitoring and defending agents interests at the state and federal levels, Maloney said. This includes fighting state taxation proposals that would damage agents and the industry's interests.
He cited recent victories over state tax proposals in Massachusetts, Michigan and Texas, but warned of more problems to come. ASTA has developed proprietary software to monitor state issues and will also continue to defend agent's interests with ARC.
Among ASTA's new initiatives will be sustaining the high level of consumer awareness of the value of professional travel agents and help with attracting new entrants into the agency business. ASTA expects to add 70 Premium members to its ranks this year (there are currently 150). Maloney said that ASTA is ahead of its goals for its Core membership category. He also reported strong growth in international members. (GD)