Another travel agency advocate on the horizon
In my hometown, there are no less than 6 different organizations representing business owners. There is the Annapolis Business Association, the West Annapolis Business Association, The State Circle and Maryland Avenue Business Association, the West Street Business Association, The Eastport Business Association…the list goes on. While they all are comprised of fantastic people and have wonderful missions, their message tends to get lost in the crowd and the collective voice, which should be heard at City Hall, is merely a muffle. Is the travel industry becoming as diluted?
While I am absolutely for any advocacy for professional agents, I do worry that with too many trying to do the same (or similar) things that the messages we are trying to deliver are diluted or lost.
While today’s consumer is as savvy as ever, I often think that we are bombarding them with mixed messages. Who do you look for when you want to buy a travel experience? An ASTA affiliated agency? Maybe someone that has a CTC from The Travel Institute? CLIA? NACTA? OSSN? A Virtuoso agency? And then you toss in all of the different consortia or franchises and I can see how a consumer can be confused.
Last week, a video made the rounds on Facebook about an organization called the Travel Professional Association. It was presented as a news clip and encouraged consumers to only book travel with a professional displaying their logo.
The website says coming soon and hosts nothing more than the video seeming to some from a local news station in Washington, DC.
Others have tried to form agency advocacy organizations before with very limited success. PATH, STARS, and another one by former Joystar CEO, Bill Alverson, are little more than a memory today. But, during their tenure, they likely lent to some confusion to consumers.
I do believe someone needs to make a concerted, sustainable, long-term effort at educating consumers on the value of using a trusted professional. With all of the independent businesses, franchises, consortia, etc., we are a fractured industry with thousands of voices each screaming different messages. Imagine if we could cohesively come together with a singular voice.
Reinventing the wheel is rarely the way to go. And as I look at the existing organizations we do have, I feel that ASTA is the likely candidate to lead such a charge. They are well positioned for government lobbying, have a long history behind them, are well seated with the major travel consortia and franchises, and they already have a firm membership base of travel agents. And they came on hard and strong when Woman’s Day dissed the industry.
What are your thoughts? Do we need another advocacy organization? Or are we good as we are? Please leave your thoughts in a comment!