Talking Points

Kenneth Shapiro No whining!” she said. “For the past few months, whenever I meet agents, that’s been my mantra: No whining.” Those were the words of Kathy Sudeikis, ASTA president, at a chapter meeting here in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago. Sudeikis feels that while the travel industry has certainl

By: Kenneth Shapiro

No whining!” she said. “For the past few months, whenever I meet agents, that’s been my mantra: No whining.”

Those were the words of Kathy Sudeikis, ASTA president, at a chapter meeting here in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago. Sudeikis feels that while the travel industry has certainly had a rough time of it over the past few years, she would like to see agents present a less gloomy image to the “outside” world.

Along those lines, Sudeikis is encouraging agents to be prepared with positive answers to some common questions.

For instance, “How’s business?”

“Business is great. Thanks for asking,” Sudeikis suggests answering.

“How has the Internet affected your business?”

“Travel agents have embraced the Internet. We use it to communicate with our clients and to research for and with our clients. We offer unbiased third-party advice when customers hit information overload,” Sudeikis offers as a reply.

These stock answers may seem silly to some, but I think Sudeikis is onto something. What she’s suggesting is conveying a unified message to the outside world a world that routinely emphasizes perception over reality. Sudeikis rightly knows that just as important as selling trips, agents must sell a positive image of their industry as well, in order to continue to be taken seriously by suppliers, lawmakers and the public at large.

ASTA has even posted prepared presentations and speeches in all formats on their Web site for agents who are asked to speak at public events, meetings or with the media, as another way to assure a consistent message (www.astanet.com).

Like Sudeikis, I encourage agents to visit the site and do their part in maintaining a positive public image, for all of us.

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