Welcome to TMR’s new Legislative Column! Here is where you will be able to find the important pieces of information you need to know concerning the travel industry and current legislation. You may ask why you should read this? The answer is simple: without YOUR help, YOUR involvement, and YOUR input, our industry with not THRIVE. We need you.
First, our trade association is the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). It is the only organized and coordinated group aligning all travel industry lobbying efforts and Capitol Hill activity for trade industry constituents. Travel industry constituents are all-encompassing, from advisors, suppliers, and the traveling public. More importantly, ASTA is YOUR trade association. It is where you can voice your opinion, share your support, and collectively speak in one unified voice.
Second, for those of you who do not know me, I am Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg, the Co-President of Valerie Wilson Travel, a FROSCH Company. I live and am based in New York City, and ASTA, and its advocacy efforts, is truly one of my passions.
I started with ASTA many years ago during Virtuoso Travel Week, where I was introduced to ASTA and the CAC. From there, I got involved by going to events, putting myself out there, speaking, etc. There was no great plan. I have been so fortunate to serve in many capacities over many years, and today, I am actively a member of its Corporate Advisory Council, and Co-Chair of its Government and Political Affairs Committee and our ASTA PAC fundraising efforts.
I have been with ASTA through many of its wins, such as its efforts to change language from agents to advisors and removing TMCs from the Department of Labor’s 1930s “blacklist” which was blocking agency employees from being exempt from overtime rules. The key things in those wins was taking action and demonstrating the impacts to you, the advisor, the traveler, the supplier.
ASTA cannot do its work alone. It needs the support and active membership of everyone. We are the stakeholders, and elected officials, and the press, want and NEED to hear from you, the storytellers, the impacted.
I want to thank TMR, Anne Marie Moebes, and Dan McCarthy for leading by example and offering this valuable editorial space to ASTA to support and change our industry. I also want to introduce you to Eben Peck, Executive Vice President of Advocacy at ASTA. He will educate and guide us as an expert and leader in the trenches every 2 weeks or so with this column. Thank you Eben.
This column will be your beacon or lighthouse of resource for what legislation is pending and where ASTA needs your assistance. Money matters, so please donate as often and as much as you can, but so do actions. Be involved. Read this column, reach out to your elected officials, your networks with your peers. I usually “tell” advisors to sign up for the ASTA Daily Advisor (which is free and you should!), but my new advice will be to also read this column. It is where you can stay current with pending issues and resources for making sure our travel industry is not only considered but represented when our elected officials are making decisions on a local, state, and federal level.