|ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby|
Yesterday’s announcement that Travel Leaders would require membership in the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) for all franchisees capped a series of initiatives by ASTA to strengthen its relationships with industry organizations and advocate for travel agents in the government and media.
Travel Leaders’ decision to require ASTA membership, which will be phased in over the next two years, is the third such deal ASTA has struck in recent months. Signature Travel Netowrk will mandate ASTA membership beginning January 1, 2015, and MAST Travel Network began subsidizing a portion of ASTA dues for its members back in June.
At the time of the Signature announcement, MAST president and COO John Werner predicted more support for ASTA by of consortia.
"MAST, as all of the consortia, recognizes the important role ASTA plays in the industry. The work that ASTA does could not be done by others," Werner said. "All agencies benefit by ASTA’s work whether they are ASTA members or not, so we believe every agency should support that work."
At the time of Signature’s decision to require ASTA membership, Signature president and CEO Alex Sharpe cited ASTA’s industry advocacy as a critical selling point.
“Belonging to ASTA is like outsourcing legal and regulatory consultants,” said Sharpe. “We simply wouldn’t survive in this business without the work that ASTA does on our behalf.”
Most recently, ASTA has been focusing its industry support efforts on the issue of non-commissionable fares in the cruise industry.
"We know many of our leisure-focused agencies have great concerns about NCFs,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA president and CEO.
“Clearly, travel agents should be fairly compensated for creating demand for the cruise lines. At the same time, those companies have the right to price their product as they see fit. That’s why ASTA recommends that each agency take a close look at their revenue data to determine the right product mix and business model for them," Kerby said.
Cruise NCFs had been a hot issue over the summer, when Disney announced big changes to their NCF and commission policy.
Also recently, ASTA’s Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) had voted to renew support for the Charitable Matching Program of ASTA’s political action committee (ASTAPAC). The program provides ASTA chapters that reach PAC fundraising and participation goals with matching funds to the charity of their choice (up to $25,000 per year, collectively).
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