With apologies to Shakespeare and Romeo, what’s in a name? As it turns out a lot. I read in Travel Weekly last week that ASTA and NACTA are in the midst of a re-branding that will include a name change for both organizations. This is a small step for ASTA, but a huge one for NACTA. Hear me out.
The American Society of Travel Agents was founded 87 years ago. For nearly a century they have been advocating for us and have been one of the prime “organizations of record” for the travel industry. And like any good organization, they needed an acronym and it was (appropriately enough) ASTA. And that is what the organization has been called ever since. To be perfectly honest, when I wrote the first line in this paragraph I had to check the name—was it “of” travel agents or “for” travel agents? And I bet many of you do as well. Their new name will be the American Association of Travel Advisors. And people will refer to it as ASTA. The change was needed to bring more clarity to the career, as most people are no longer solely agents of the supplier. This makes sense to me. It is a subtle update. It will likely include a bit of new branding and a new logo, but a pretty simple change. And to be honest, the consumers who even recognize what ASTA is will be none the wiser. Good move!
Now NACTA or the (yes, I had to look it up too) National Association of Career Travel Agents is updating their name too. NACTA is owned by ASTA since 2000 when they acquired the National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents. See what they did there? In 2009, ASTA ditched the “commissioned” and swapped it with “career.” Again, for those looking for the organization looked for NACTA…National Association North American, Career, Commissioned…it did not matter. ASTA was ASTA and NACTA was NACTA. But this time around, NACTA is going to call NACTA the ASTA Small Business Network. Huh? If you want to wholly roll NACTA into ASTA, then by all means do it. But why take a 32 year old organization that is known and respected and completely zap its identity?
As an agent…uh, advisor…you have built up your business and your reputation over the years. When people in Podunk want a cruise, they immediately think of Charlie’s Cruise Connection. When folks in Boondoggle are looking for that perfect Hawaiian honeymoon, they are calling Hannah’s Hawaiian Holidays! It is important! What do you think would happen if Charlie changed the name to “Charley’s Cruise Connection” or “Charlie’s Crooze Connection?” Not much. But what if Hannah decided to change her name (but not what she does) to Smith’s Vacation Agency? It may reflect a married name and that she does more than Hawaii, but she effectively tossed out years of brand building. Hannah would never do that. If I was Hannah, I’d add an “and more” at the end and call it a day.
ASTA, you’ll be fine with your name change. I am not so sure about NACTA..or as people will now refer to it ASTASBN.