Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Travel Agents

ASTA Free Guide to Becoming a Travel Advisor Sees Thousands of Downloads

9 months ago

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has seen over 12,000 downloads of its Travel Advisor Career Overview guide to becoming a travel agent since it made the resource free.

Previously, ASTA’s materials came with a fee, with only about 50 downloads in the five years before 2023.

ASTA’s next step in career training for aspiring travel agents has also been modified to include an ASTA membership with the “Future Travel Professional” level, which forms part of the Roadmap to Becoming a Travel Advisor course starting at $199. An independent advisor membership begins at $228.

The guide was made freely available through a partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line and forms part of ASTA’s overall initiative to bring new travel advisors to the industry, said Zane Kerby, CEO and president of ASTA.

“Right now, the travel industry desperately needs more talent,” said Kerby. “If someone is interested in becoming a travel advisor, they first have to understand the landscape of our industry and the variety of pathways available to them.”

“Our members are telling us they need help,” Kerby further stated as he explained that the overhaul of ASTA’s Travel Career Center extends beyond recruitment with the intent to “equip future professionals with comprehensive tools for success.”

ASTA represents 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through travel agency distribution channels.

Travel Agents

Travel Agents Could Have a Say in New Rules For Passengers

1 year ago

Travel agents could bring a real-world perspective to complex rules shaping the protection of air travel passengers, as part of a modernization proposal for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) watchdog for aviation consumer protection.

The Modernization Act (H.R. 3780) would see the Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) membership include a dedicated travel agency seat to the advisory body. The bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Marc Molinaro (R-NY) and Julia Brownley (D-CA) on Thursday, 1 June. 

The five most recent ACPAC meetings, starting in December 2021, have centered around two major DOT regulatory proposals on ticket refunds and transparency in airline fees – crucial to business operations of travel agencies, whatever their final forms take. 

“Roughly half of all airline tickets in the U.S. are sold through the agency channel. Giving these small business owners, 70 percent of whom are women, an elevated voice in the DOT regulatory process will help the Department meet its consumer protection mission,” said Zane Kerby, CEO and president of the American Association of Travel Advisors (ASTA). 

Travel agents provide valuable insights through real-world impacts of complex proposals pending before DOT, currently missing from ACPAC’s process, added Eben Peck, ASTA’s executive vice president.

In its current form, ACPAC membership consists of one representative each of U.S. airlines, consumer groups, airports and state or local governments.  

Travel Agents

Nexion President Elected New ASTA Chair at Puerto Rico Convention

1 year ago

The American Society of Travel Advisors elected Nexion Travel Group President Jackie Friedman as its new chair for 2023-2024.

ASTA elected Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion Travel Group, as its new chair. Source: Nexion Travel Group

Friedman replaced Marc Casto, who served as board chair for the past two years. Friedman’s post likewise has a two-year term.

“It’s an incredible honor to be the new chair for the ASTA Board of Directors,” said Friedman in a statement. “My sincere thanks go to Marc Casto for his leadership over the past two terms, and I am excited to work with this tremendous group of travel professionals.”

The changing of the guard took place at the trade group’s annual convention in Puerto Rico last week.

In a LinkedIn post, Casto, cited the growth of ASTA’s membership, as well as the passage of the Travel & Tourism Act, as among the the organization’s accomplishments during his tenure.

Casto was a long-time corporate travel executive, and currently is a senior vice president at Flight Centre.

“We have made extraordinary growth in our three goals of achieving 20,000 members by 2025, defining a path for net zero by 2030, and expanding ASTA’s influence and operations globally,” Casto wrote.

One challenge for travel agencies, many of which deal heavily with clients seeking luxury vacations, will be to see whether inflationary concerns weigh down their businesses. So far, by most accounts, the luxury space remains robust.

In addition to Friedman, ASTA elected the following officers, according to the group’s announcement:

  • Corporate Advisory Council Chair – Kathy Bedell, senior vice president, BCD Travel
    • Vice Chair/Secretary – Lee Thomaschief operating officer, Altour; president, Business Travel & The Travel Authority 
    • Treasurer – Kelly Bergin, CEO, Duglin Travel Group
    • Corporate Advisory Council Chair – Kathy Bedell, senior vice president, BCD Travel