Why ASTA Matters: Agents Speak Out

by Harvey Chipkin

Not long before ASTA convened for the 2014 Global Convention, currently taking place aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, Travel Market Report asked member agents why they support ASTA and what the association means to them. Here’s what they said:

Uniting for common cause
“I am a proud member of ASTA because they are the only association that is fighting the travel industry fights. They are our voice to our local and federal government and have squashed bills that would have put many of us out of business.” – Betsy Geiser, Uniglobe Travel, Irvine, Calif.

“Only by uniting for common cause can we hope to influence legislation, reach policy makers, and improve our outcomes.” – Marc Casto, Casto Travel, San Jose, Calif.
“Whenever there is an issue that affects travel agents, whether it is airline, supplier, state or congressional, ASTA is there to represent our business interests. I am proud to say my agency is ‘ASTA Strong.’” – Heather Dolstra, CTC, Democracy Travel, Washington, D.C.

A business resource
“Membership in ASTA has allowed me to network with many important people in the industry. These connections have been very beneficial. ASTA helps my business and helps me stay in business. Just recently a new client found me on travelsense.org and booked a $12,000 honeymoon. The revenue from this one booking covers my ASTA dues for three years!” – Rick Ardis, Ardis Travel, East Rutherford, N.J.
“ASTA delivers critical research and analyzes the industry in a way that allows us to be more forward-thinking with our businesses. They bring us the big picture and help us prepare for the future. ASTA is our support. They provide me with resources that I frankly don’t have time, expertise and resources to gather on my own. I upgraded my membership many years ago to the Premium level. I see it as investment in this industry and an investment in my future. I wish more agents felt the same way.” – Mary Peters, CTC, Friendly Travel, Inc. Alexandria, Va.

Open to all
“ASTA is the only organization where every agent can belong, learn, contribute, grow and network with other agents. You can do all of this regardless of whether you are an owner, manager, leisure/corporate agent, brick and mortar, home-based, hosted, Vacation.com, TRAVELSAVERS, Nexion, Ensemble, etc.” – Kate Murphy, CTA/President, Wings Travel Group, Blue Bell, Pa.

Ensuring survival
“ASTA, more than ever, is fundamental for the survival of our agency and supplier communities. ASTA is the only association protecting the rights of travel professionals while promoting a healthy industry through advocacy and education. It’s the one entity shielding against those wishing for a travel environment in which consumers would have the single option of going direct. Our very survival depends on a viable and prepared ASTA.” – Jorge Sanchez, CTC, MENA Tours/American Express, Chicago
“As individual agencies, we could never accomplish what ASTA does for us by becoming ‘One Voice’ for all of us. I really cannot see us surviving without ASTA.” – Hope Wallace, CTC, ADA Travel, Casa Grande, Ariz.

Needs broader support
“It’s unfortunate that so many agents don’t support their industry’s association, yet we all benefit from their work. One of ASTA’s taglines is 'Without an agent you’re on your own.' Same goes for agencies without our national watchdog.” – Mary Peters, CTC, Friendly Travel

ASTA is the leading national organization that advocates for the entire travel industry and is so vital and necessary to ensure positive legislation proposals through its PAC committee and protecting the interests of travel agents on a daily basis. However for ASTA to continue to do this, it needs the support of all people in travel, by their committed annual membership.” – Ralph Vasami, Caprice Travel Agency, Hartsdale, N.Y.

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