“YTB may well be the future of retail travel sales and deserves close study by the industry— not condemnation,” Phil Davidoff, president of Davidoff Associates and a former president of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) told Travel Agent in an interview.
Both Phil and his wife/partner, Doris Davidoff, taught two seminars at YTB’s recent national convention in St. Louis and offered praise for the quality of the estimated 15,000 to 20,000 agents who attended.
“The quality, degree of interest in travel as a profession and the awareness of the travel industry’s need for professionalism was clear to us,” Phil said. Phil and Doris are CTCs, CTIEs and MCCs, and long-standing "establishment" advocates.
The Davidoffs have been working with YTB to enhance its travel agent program along with another respected educator, Marc Mancini, who is assisting YTB in creating a comprehensive professional education and training program. “YTB is aggressively expanding its professional education program and we believe will produce productive and professional agents that will be a credit to the industry,” Mancini said.
“Virtually every new business model that has been developed in the industry— cruise-only agents, franchise agents and home based-agents, for example— have been targeted for criticism, sometimes unfairly,” Doris said. “YTB isn’t perfect, but their management is moving to build on their strengths.”
The Davidoffs stressed that they were advisors to YTB and that they maintain their independence. The two seminars on group travel, which they jointly presented, were attended by an estimated 450 at the first and 750 at the second.
“YTB is positioned to deliver market share to suppliers.” Phil said. “As long-standing champions of professionalism for travel agents, we believe YTB has the power to become a major selling force. They are aggressively marketing travel. And given the sheer numbers involved, YTB will produce a lot of well trained agents.
“What we suggest is that agents keep an open mind toward YTB and its agents. There are lessons to be learned for all of us,” Phil continued. “The real question is if they are expanding consumer demand for travel.”
The Davidoffs declined comment on pending legal action by the state of California’s Attorney General against YTB. The attorney general alleges that YTB has made deceptive claims to consumers.