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What:The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) recently announced the creation and launch of a Consumer Awareness Committee, which will provide guidance to ASTA executives on consumer awareness initiatives; assist the organization in monitoring industry trends and implications from emerging technologies and media; and develop awareness campaigns. The committee of 13 industry leaders is made up of experts in marketing, social media and more.
Why It Matters:Recent surveys have shown that travelers are increasingly using travel agents, with a higher percentage of consumers booking through an advisor now than in previous years. This growth is taking place despite a general lack of awareness about the benefits of working with an agent. ASTA’s new committee is an important step toward providing agents with a steady stream of clients well into the future.
Fast Facts:- According to ASTA’s study, 22 percent of travelers booked through a travel agent, with millennials leading in agent usage, at 30 percent, and likelihood to recommend an advisor (45 percent). The study also reveals that travel professionals save consumers an average of $300 per trip and three hours of time.
- The members of ASTA’s consumer Awareness Committee are: Misty Ewing Belles, managing director of global public relations for Virtuoso; Carolyn Cauceglia, vice president of strategic sales for Amadeus North America Inc.; Brian Chapin, senior director of air and travel solutions for Ensemble Travel Group; Karryn Christopher, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Signature Travel Network; Jay Ellenby, president of Safe Harbors Business Travel and chair for ASTA’s board of directors; Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion LLC; Betsy Geiser, vice president of Uniglobe Travel Center and member of ASTA’s board of directors; Ron Gulaskey, associate vice president of national and strategic accounts – North America for Celebrity Cruises; Brian Hegarty, vice president of marketing for Travel Leaders Network; Scott Koepf, senior vice president of sales for Avoya Travel and member of ASTA’s board of directors; Jenn Lee, vice president sales and marketing for Travel Planners International; Sharon Poulos, director of marketing – Americas for Travelport; and Chris Seddelmeyer of Seddelmeyer Travel Concepts and member of ASTA’s board of directors.
- The committee convened for the first time in November 2016.
What They Are Saying:“Raising consumer awareness regarding the value of using a travel agent is a critical part of ASTA’s mission,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA president and CEO. “While we have substantially ramped up our consumer awareness activities over the past year, creating two consumer-facing videos, making upgrades to TravelSense.org, our consumer-facing website, we have only begun to scratch the surface. We appreciate our volunteer committee members stepping forward to invest their time, energy and expertise as they help us chart the best path forward in 2017 and beyond.”