Travel Agent Usage Boosting NACTA's And ASTA's Fortunes

by Richard D’Ambrosio
Travel Agent Usage Boosting NACTA's And ASTA's Fortunes

NACTA president Ann Chamberlin says ASTA and NACTA are benefitting from increased consumer confidence.

 
 
Small business and consumer confidence have been growing since the election, causing an increase in the desire for travel. And that in turn is strengthening both ASTA and its sibling organization, the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA).
 
With travel agents more popular in general, and travelers feeling more confident about traveling more, both NACTA and ASTA are growing their membership bases, and seeing greater interest in events, said Ann Chamberlin, president of NACTA and a senior vice president for ASTA.
 
“It’s important that agents connect with one another,” Chamberlin said, “and when their business is doing well, it affords them the opportunity to attend events. We’re filling these meetings and events up. They want to spend the money to learn. Business is good.”
 
The mood among agents is “very good,” she said, “with ASTA and NACTA agents wanting to be more participatory and involved.” Increasing the number of ASTA chapters will allow for more information sharing, events and other coordination between NACTA and ASTA chapters.
 
Last year, ASTA introduced a number of partnerships with suppliers and consortia/host agencies to help fund agent memberships, including Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines. It plans to introduce more partnerships this year, Chamberlin said.
 
As a result, the growth in membership is going “very well,” Chamberlin said. “We have grown the number of independent contractors (ICs) more than double what we had a year ago at this time. Host agencies helped a lot to drive that. That’ll continue as the host agencies and full-service agencies want to ensure that their agents are professional.”
 
The two organizations also are more inclusive in nature toward one another since Chamberlin took on her SVP role at ASTA, and NACTA members are invited to attend ASTA events.
 
“We’ve broadened the arena for more chapter presidents, for NACTA people to serve on the ASTA side,” she said. “NACTA is very much about community and learning from each other. ICs work from home, so they want to go to chapter activities to share what they learn and learn what to avoid.”
 
More local chapters
With the growth in membership comes the opportunity to increase the number of chapters so agents don’t have to travel as far to get to a meeting. Chamberlin said ASTA is hoping to introduce 10 new chapters this year, though she had no specifics on what states or regions might see them.
 
To assist the organization, late last year ASTA hired Kim Sherrit as manager of membership and chapter development, providing more expertise in how to attract and serve this growing niche of agents. She works with its three new area chapter directors to grow “ASTA membership and foster chapter development and growth.” Sherrit previously was manager of business development and education at host agency Nexion.
 
New Consumer Awareness Committee announced

ASTA today also announced the creation of a Consumer Awareness Committee made up of 13 industry representatives with marketing, social media and consumer awareness experience.
 
The committee’s launch follows on a year where consumer awareness about travel agents has grown. Both ASTA and industry marketing communications company MMGY have documented the rise in use of travel agents.
 
“Raising consumer awareness regarding the value of using a travel agent is a critical part of ASTA’s mission,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA President & CEO.
 
Consumer Awareness Committee members are:
Misty Ewing Belles, managing director, global public relations, Virtuoso, Washington, DC
Carolyn Cauceglia, vice president, strategic sales, Amadeus North America Inc., Miami
Brian Chapin, senior director, air & travel solutions, Ensemble Travel Group, Chicago
Karryn Christopher, senior vice president, sales & marketing, Signature Travel Network, Los Angeles
Jay Ellenby, president, Safe Harbors Business Travel, Bel Air, MD and chair, ASTA Board of Directors
Jackie Friedman, president, Nexion LLC, Irving, TX
Betsy Geiser, vice president, Uniglobe Travel Center, Irvine, CA and Member, ASTA Board of Directors
Ron Gulaskey, associate vice president, national and strategic accounts – North America, Celebrity Cruises, Miami
Brian Hegarty, vice president, marketing, Travel Leaders Network, Plymouth, MN
Scott Koepf, senior vice president, sales, Avoya Travel, San Diego, CA and member, ASTA Board of Directors
Jenn Lee, vice president, sales & marketing, Travel Planners International, Maitland, FL
Sharon Poulos, director of marketing – Americas, Travelport, Atlanta
Chris Seddelmeyer, Seddelmeyer Travel Concepts, Lima. OH, and Member, ASTA Board of Directors
  0
  0
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Travel Tricks Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

1. Have a System for TSA Security.

2. Prepare Electronics for Continuous Work.

3. Pack for Success.

4. Plane Etiquette.

5. The Best Credit Cards for Travel.

Source: Forbes

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=45d3fb43-bb5a-e811-ba59-782bcb66a2f2

How Travel Agents Can Stay Relevant When the World Thinks They're Not

Sponsored by Travel Planners International.

Stop trying to change consumers' perceptions of what a travel agent is or does. Instead, focus on changing the perspective of who you are.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Why Some Travel Agents Ask for Budgets Up Front
Why Some Travel Agents Ask for Budgets Up Front

Never be the first to quote a number, expert negotiators say. But when it comes to travel, sharing your number with your agent ensures the best possible vacation.

Travel Agents Have Voices Heard in D.C. During ASTA's Legislative Day
Travel Agents Have Voices Heard in D.C. During ASTA's Legislative Day

Having their day on Capitol Hill, agents bring key issues to the Senate and House of Representatives.

Americans Are Vacationing More Now Than Any Point Since 2010
Americans Are Vacationing More Now Than Any Point Since 2010

In another encouraging sign for travel agents, upward leisure travel trend helps U.S. reach highest level of vacation day usage since 2010.

Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Eruption Isn’t a Covered Event for Typical Travel Insurance
Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Eruption Isn’t a Covered Event for Typical Travel Insurance

Despite the headlines and photos coming from Hawaii’s Big Island, the event is not disrupting travel plans.

Headquarter Happenings: For Host Agency TPI, Treating Agents as Business Owners Is Key
Headquarter Happenings: For Host Agency TPI, Treating Agents as Business Owners Is Key

Travel Planners International will roll out a new integrated technology platform for its agents later this year. The 30-year-old host is also looking to redefine the host agency model.

Two Agents Talk How ASTA Destination Expo in Greece will Directly Impact Their Sales
Two Agents Talk How ASTA Destination Expo in Greece will Directly Impact Their Sales

Greece wasn’t on the radar for two American travel agents, who say their eyes and businesses were opened by immersing themselves in the destination.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Norwegian Cruise Line