I wrote an article for Travel Agent Perspective a while back about developing a support system and getting to know agents in your community. This article struck a chord with an agent in my hometown. He emailed me and thought it was a wonderful idea. As a result, we decided to try and form a travel agent association comprised of full time travel agents in our community. Our goals for the association is to promote our value using the local media to the public and to overcome the perception that travel agents are not needed any longer.
The first meeting was held in the morning and was well attended. Everyone seemed enthusiastic about the association. The second meeting– not so much. We decided to try an evening meeting which worked out better for everyone’s schedule. We proposed doing an advertisement in the local suburban newspapers with bullet points on why to use a travel agent and listing our agencies. Unfortunately, there were too many objections to the ad, size, duration of the ad running, etc. So, we decided to table the ad for now. We also proposed doing a travel show. Due to time constraints that was tabled as well. We realized that maybe we needed to step back and concentrate on getting the organization formed, address organizational issues etc. before we tackle other things.
So, for now we are concentrating on electing officers and using the media as an outlet to promote our group. I am confident with the election of officers we can craft an agenda that makes sense for everyone.
I have said it before and it is worth repeating. There is plenty of business to go around for all of us. We need to reach out to those who don’t have a passport, have never cruised and are booking online and explain our value. Let’s face it— it does not appear that any national organization has the resources to do a national campaign, nor does any other group. I think a travel agent association at the local level is needed to get the word out. I would love to hear from others who have had success in forming an organization either formally or informally.
Publisher’s (RBE) frigging note: how many more times do agents like Mary have to say it? Are you totally willing to surrender your fate to chance? Organize! At the grassroots level, in your own hometowns, organize. Quit waiting for someone to do it for you. Hello?
Let me explain. You are not splitting the community of people who use agents. There is a vastly larger community of people who do not use travel agents. Guys, organize, speak for yourselves in your local communities. Everyone will benefit.