ASTA Gears Up for Legislative Day on Capitol Hill

by Maria Lenhart
ASTA Gears Up for Legislative Day on Capitol Hill

ASTA is inviting members to participate in Legislative Day 2014, a day-long event on May 13 in Washington, D.C. The day will provide opportunities for travel agents to speak directly to policymakers and their staff.

The event marks the first time ASTA has held Legislative Day since 2007.

Visibility in D.C.
“The main goal is not necessarily legislative, but for agents to develop a relationship with Congress and to be visible to Congress,” said Eben Peck, ASTA’s vice president of government affairs.

“We’re competing with a lot of groups who are on Capitol Hill all the time. We have to make sure we have a place at the table and this is a good way to do it.”

Educational sessions
The program will kick off with morning educational sessions at the Marriott Renaissance D.C.

Peck said the sessions will address the need for travel agents to become advocates for the industry at both federal and state government levels as well as providing training in advocacy.

A panel of presenters will include Capitol Hill staffers, ASTA headquarters staff and government relations executives from other travel organizations.

The panel will be followed by a background briefing on ASTA’s key federal policy issues, such as airline ancillary fees, aviation security reform, independent contractors and travel facilitation.

“We’re currently deciding which issues to focus on, but most likely they will include DOT proposals on regulations and the facilitation of international travel,” Peck said.

Meet with your lawmakers
In the afternoon, participating agents will have the chance to meet face-to-face with their elected U.S. Senators, Representatives or staff during scheduled appointments on Capitol Hill.

“We will set up meetings for each attendee, so they can make their case directly,” said Peck.

Having an impact
Among agents planning to participate in Legislative Day is Gloria Stock Mickelson, senior manager of education and training for Travel Leaders Franchise Group in Plimoth, Minn., and president of the Upper Midwest ASTA Chapter.

Last year Stock Mickelson was part of an ASTA/GBTA delegation that went before the Minnesota state legislature to lobby against a sales tax proposal that would have had a potentially crippling impact on agencies. The proposal was not enacted.

“That experience really opened my eyes on the process of legislation. I found the involvement very meaningful,” she said. “It showed me that one little person sitting out there in Minnesota can have an impact. I learned that legislators really do care what the voters think.”

Getting personal
Stock Mickelson said she is looking forward to the chance to meet with Congressional representatives, something she believes will help make lawmakers aware of the fact that “agents have not gone away – we’re alive and well.”

Among her most memorable moments during last year’s lobbying effort in Minnesota was a meeting with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

“I found that Klobuchar really wanted to talk with us and that she wanted to know about the travel industry,” Stock Mickelson said. “She said her last vacation had not gone well – and admitted she did not use a travel agent. So it makes it personal.”

Exposure to issues
The decision to re-start ASTA Legislative Day reflects the organization’s move toward a stronger advocacy position on governmental issues, according to Peck.

“In my mind, one of the benefits of ASTA membership is that you are exposed to issues that directly affect your business,” he said. “We hope more agents will join ASTA and get involved.”

More information on ASTA’s Legislative Day and how to register is available from ASTA.

Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Most Expensive Luxury Hotels in Miami

1. Fisher Island Resort (Miami) $1,573

2. The Breakers Palm Beach $1,131

3. The Moorings Village (Islamorada) $1,127

4. Four Seasons at the Surf Club (Surfside)



Multigenerational Adventure Cruising is Trending

Sponsored by Silversea Cruises

Smaller expedition cruises are taking families on momentous journeys to off-the-beaten-path locales like Antarctica, Africa and the Galapagos.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Managing Your Clients' Trip Advisor Experience
Managing Your Clients' Trip Advisor Experience

Travel agents offer their advice about how travel review sites are both a challenge and a benefit to their businesses.

Let a Pied Piper Lead Your Group Travel Business to Success
Let a Pied Piper Lead Your Group Travel Business to Success

One of the fastest ways to sell out a group trip is to have that charismatic person everyone loves to follow. But who are they and where can you find them?

CCRA Purging Non-Compliant Travel Agencies
CCRA Purging Non-Compliant Travel Agencies

As more and more consumers seek to do business with travel agents, networks and organizations are increasing their standards for certification to help qualified agents stand out.

The Ins and Outs of Selling Travel Insurance
The Ins and Outs of Selling Travel Insurance

Not enough travel agents are taking full advantage of the impact travel insurance can have on their bottom line, said experts at this year’s Travel MarketPlace Conference in Vancouver.

How to Use Facebook Live for Marketing
How to Use Facebook Live for Marketing

Over 250 agents at Travel MarketPlace participated in a session about incorporating the new Facebook Live into their marketing efforts - and the travel agent response proved its worth.

Top Ways to Market on a Shoestring Budget
Top Ways to Market on a Shoestring Budget

Don't have a lot of marketing dollars to spend? One host agency network owner zeroes in on best marketing practices that require little to no expense.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tauck