ASTA and Partners Ask Industry to Switch From Agent to Advisor
Change is hard, but today, the American Society of Travel Advisors and its many partners have asked the industry to make the switch: call travel agents travel advisors.
In an open letter, the organization says that the term “advisor” more accurately reflects travel agents current value to the marketplace.
“Today’s travel agents are no longer mere booking intermediaries. They have become trusted advisors—akin to financial planners and CPAs—who make the overall travel experience better and provide both leisure and business travelers maximum value for their travel dollar,” ASTA’s leaders and partners say in an open letter.
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ASTA took the unprecedented step of changing its name to reflect the change last year, and the letter highlights that terminology matters.
“In order to fully realize the benefits of this change, however, it is critical that all industry stakeholders speak with one voice when it comes to describing our business,” said the letter’s signatories, which include ASTA’s president and CEO Zane Kerby; Eric Altschul, CEO ABC Global Services; Ernesto Lavandero, Director, U.S. Network American Express Travel; Chris Dane, president of Hickory Global Partners; Bobby Godwin, vice president, Leisure Travel Alliance; John Werner, president and COO of MAST Travel Network; Alex Sharpe, president and CEO of Signature Travel Network; Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group; Kathryn Mazza-Burney, executive vice president, sales for Travelsavers, Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso and Mike Estill, COO of Western Assoc. of Travel Agencies.
The complete letter is below:
In August 2018, our industry’s national trade association, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), announced to the world that it had rebranded as the American Society of Travel Advisors. This name change, the Society’s first in almost 75 years, embodies the revitalization of our part of the travel industry that has been taking place for several years and sends a critical message to the traveling public and the broader industry.
Today’s travel agents are no longer mere booking intermediaries. They have become trusted advisors—akin to financial planners and CPAs—who make the overall travel experience better and provide both leisure and business travelers maximum value for their travel dollar. The term “advisor” not only more accurately describes the value our members provide to consumers but also serves as a distinct declaration of who we work for: the traveling public. What’s more exciting is that the consumer media and, more importantly, travelers themselves are embracing this shift from agent to advisor.
In order to fully realize the benefits of this change, however, it is critical that all industry stakeholders speak with one voice when it comes to describing our business.
To that end, we are encouraging our member companies, supplier partners and anyone doing meaningful business through the travel advisor channel to add their name to the growing list of organizations (attached) that have made or are in the process of making the switch from “travel agent” to “travel advisor” in their consumer and trade communications.
We are experiencing a true renaissance in our industry, with consumers increasingly coming back to our members for the comparison shopping, unbiased advice, destination expertise and personal support that only a trusted travel advisor can provide. That said, terminology still matters and we hope you will join us as we move from agent to advisor.