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American Society of Travel Agents

ASTA board unanimously approves new business plan member vote in September required to ratify

The Board of Directors of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) today unanimously approved a bold new business model to enable the Society…

The Board of Directors of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) today unanimously approved a bold new business model to enable the Society to deliver unique and valuable new services to travel agents. The business plan includes new Core and Premium member categories that offer most current members more access to information for lower dues and give a new segment of the industry the chance to benefit from one-on-one services. ASTA members will be asked to ratify the plan in September.



Current ASTA members are going to be really excited about the benefits they`ll receive under the new business plan, and we think that lots of non-members will be attracted to the services we`ll offer as well, said Kathryn W. Sudeikis, CTC, ASTA president and CEO. For our current embers, the new plan provides an excellent array of online services that gives them more access to important industry information for less money. Joining ASTA will validate that you are an integral part of the travel retailing community and help build one strong voice for agents.



Agencies that choose to become Premium members will be able to take advantage of customized research, one-on-one consulting, extensive networking opportunities and a higher level of involvement in federal and state government relations,
Sudeikis added. Not only did ASTA`s Board give the plan an enthusiastic thumbs up, but the 31 chapter presidents who met earlier this month also voted unanimously to approve the new plan. ASTA is poised for an exciting period of growth ahead.



ASTA members will receive electronic ballots on Sept. 7. The deadline for voting is Sept. 21, and ASTA will announce the results of the vote on Sept. 22. Members will vote only on the new business model. If the plan is ratified, they will be asked to consider changes to the association`s governance structure in fall 2005.



If members vote to ratify the new business model, implementation will begin in 2006 and new member categories will be officially launched in Jan. 2007.



Immediate Past President Richard Copland appointed a Strategic Planning Task Force in spring 2004 to look at ASTA`s membership structure and financial picture. The Task Force was made up of small and large members, who considered different organizational structures and concluded that they needed hard facts from the marketplace of travel agents in order to make any recommendations to the Board.



Following requests for proposals from well-known research firms, ASTA hired Harris Interactive to conduct an industry survey. The survey was e-mailed at the end of Dec. 2004 to more than 14,000, current and lapsed ASTA members and non-members. The overall response rate exceeded 9 percent. Based on an overall margin of error rate of plus or minus 3 percent, Harris Interactive expressed its highest degree of confidence that it accurately represented the travel agent community in its survey.



The research showed the greatest potential market demand if ASTA provides online services and concierge-level services in parallel. The business plan was created under the guidance of the ASTA Executive Committee and three task forces that worked on the new business model to ensure a fair and thorough process.



Providing the new Core and Premium membership types will enable ASTA to address the needs of all travel agents. Current ASTA members will be able to choose which type of membership they feel best meets their business needs.



Core Membership



Under the new model, both companies and individuals may join the Core membership. Annual dues for Core members will be $250. All must comply with the ASTA Code of Ethics and will be able to display the ASTA logo in all company-owned locations. Benefits of Core membership will include:

  • Industry identification number that will conform to the IATA format and be used to identify the agency or individual seller in supplier

    accounting records.
  • Online access to business resources through a new ASTA Industry E-Library, which will allow for online questions and responses to specific business requirements.
  • Educational services delivered online and at ASTA annual meetings.
  • Federal and state lobbying that includes local fundraising efforts for Members of Congress and the opportunity to participate in ASTAPAC.
  • High-level research information in summary format online.
  • Annual events including the International Destination Expo in Prague, Czech Republic, March 2006; and THETRADESHOW in Orlando, Sept. 2006.
  • Rich content on ASTAnet.com and TravelSense.org.
  • Communications including daily and weekly e-newsletters; Member Alerts, listservs, etc.
  • Peer assistance exchange for members with commercial problems.
  • Technology evaluations on new software for agents.
  • Business model evaluations on agency business performance.


Premium Membership



Under the new model, the Premium member is a business firm. Annual dues will be $2,500 for Premium members. ASTA will extend Core membership status to ASTA-registered employees of Premium members. Benefits of membership will include:

  • Advanced business consulting services. Each member will be assigned to a staff team responsible for managing the solutions to the issues presented by the member.
  • Business networking forums will be invitation-only networking events produced by ASTA for Premium members and suppliers.
  • Custom research such as marketing data to support sales programs or demographic information about an agency`s community.
  • Active participation in federal and state lobbying including a Legislative Summit; opportunity to participate in ASTAPAC; and lobbying visits to Washington by interested Premium members.
  • Specialized knowledge development and delivery of information on such issues as elimination of GDS incentives, reduction of cruise/tour commissions, dominance of low cost airlines, cost of doing business as a small retailer, price discounting/exclusive dealing by suppliers, changing demographics of the travel buying public, catastrophic event planning and taxation.
  • Annual events including the International Destination Expo in Prague, Czech Republic, March 2006; and THETRADESHOW in Orlando, Sept. 2006.
  • International Buyers Club at World Travel Mart (WTM) to facilitate travel agents seeking a new role as buyers of travel product at WTM.
  • Peer assistance exchange for members with commercial problems.
  • Professional E-Journal featuring quarterly articles by industry leaders, consultant and agents on issues affecting the business.
  • Rich content on ASTAnet.com and TravelSense.org.
  • Public relations consulting services including a basic media plan, press release and media contacts.
  • Communications including daily and weekly e-newsletters; Member Alerts, listservs, etc.
  • Web design assistance and Web content.
  • Consumer awareness on the value of using a travel agent.
  • Industry identification number which will conform to the IATA format and be used to identify the agency or individual seller in supplier accounting records.
Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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