The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) met with Ari Matusiak, Special Assistant to the President and White House Director of Private Sector Engagement, this week to discuss the value that travel professionals contribute to the small business-driven national economy and to consumers.
“After today’s meeting, we are optimistic that the White House understands the value of the travel agency channel,” said ASTA President Zane Kerby (pictured). “President Obama and his advisers are aware that our industry is thriving.”
ASTA Chair, John I. Lovell, a second-generation retail travel agency owner and president of Breton Village Travel Services in Grand Rapids, Mich., provided his perspective in the meeting. Not only has his business survived various marketplace changes, such as direct-distribution and online competitors, he has experienced two recent recessions and a host of other industry disruptions.
“At the end of the day, what matters the most is our ability to sell our value, which is our ability to provide an unmatchable customer travel experience,” said Lovell. “ASTA’s tag line says it all, ‘without a travel agent, you are on your own.’”
As a result of discussion, ASTA was invited to participate in the White House Business Council meeting on travel and tourism in a few weeks. In addition, ASTA came away from the meeting with the conviction that the Administration strongly supports the travel industry, and respects and understands the travel agent’s role in fueling the nation’s economy and helping them reach their travel and tourism policy goals.