While watching the recent revolutions unfold in the Middle East, there was, understandably, considerable discussion in the media about the important role that tourism will play in the future of these countries. Unfortunately, even though there are plenty of agents with years of experience in travel to the Middle East -- as well as expertise on the expectations of consumers who travel there -- I didn't see any agents interviewed on the subject.
Clearly, this issue's cover story, "Public Relations Basics for Travel Agents
," covers a topic that is increasingly crucial in today's media-reliant environment. With more consumers getting their advice and expertise via their favorite electronic devices -- coupled with the rise in social media -- travel agents need to be more media savvy than ever in order to get their name and skills noticed by potential clients.
While working on this story, I had the opportunity to talk with Jason Coleman, president of the Southern California chapter of ASTA (SoCalASTA). As you'll read in the story, SoCalASTA, under Coleman's guidance, has been aggressively advocating for better PR and consumer awareness for the role of travel agents in the hopes of increasing the profile of the agent community as a whole. (Read more about the chapter's new Consumer Awareness Committee
"I believe that customer awareness is one of our most important roles as the trade organization for travel advisors," Coleman told me. "Someone has to take the lead and, at SoCalASTA, we recognize that a national consumer campaign is not financially feasible. I believe that awareness efforts are best implemented on the grassroots local level, so it is our goal to see the programs and initiatives we implement copied in other areas."
Here's hoping that the chapter's efforts will become a model for agents everywhere so that, finally, travel consultants will begin to get the respect from the media they are due.