|Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch|
Virtuoso has announced plans to reimburse membership dues for the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) in 2015.
The move follows a similar announcement by Signature Travel Network, which back in September said it would require members to participate in ASTA as of January 1, 2015. Unlike Signature's plan, Virtuoso will not require ASTA membership. Reimbursing dues, however, will remove a financial obstacle that may concern some agencies, Virtuoso said in a release announcing the decision.
Virtuoso will reimburse up to $736 per agency within its network, which will fully cover membership dues for up to 85 percent of its agencies and subsidize the majority of dues for the others. The 62 Virtuoso agencies that currently are ASTA members will receive reimbursement for their dues, giving them the option of redirecting their fee toward ASTA’s Political Action Committee (PAC). Both groups anticipate the number of shared Virtuoso and ASTA members will climb significantly with this added financial incentive, Virtuoso said.
“Zane Kerby and ASTA are doing good work,” said Matthew D. Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso. “Our community needs a unified voice when it comes to tackling industry-wide issues, especially on Capitol Hill, and I know they are committed to that cause. We are supporting ASTA in this manner because of its agency and travel advisor advocacy. The more agencies that are involved, the louder our collective voice becomes.”
Upchurch has served on ASTA’s Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) and was honored in 2004 when he was inducted into ASTA’s Travel Hall of Fame. In addition to financially supporting its agencies, Virtuoso will continue to maintain its own Premium Membership and CAC Membership.
“Virtuoso has a long history of ardently supporting the entire travel agency community, be it through dedicated PR efforts to educate consumers on the benefits of using a travel advisor, or now with a financial contribution to ASTA,” says Zane Kerby, president and CEO of ASTA. “Virtuoso’s strong endorsement is a tremendous boost to our organization. With the help of Virtuoso, we’ll garner support from more agencies and speak with a more powerful, unified voice to important legislators and regulators at the federal and state level.”