Shapes Of Things To Come

For the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), 2016 may prove to be a rather significant year in its history as it hires a new president, rolls out a new membership card that provides tangible, member-specific incentives, and continues to focus on its strategy of “Advocate, Educate, Connect and Promote.”

Canadian Travel Press sat down with Mary Jane Hiebert, chair of ACTA’s board of directors, to talk about where ACTA’s at and where the association is headed in the future. And for agents across the country, it’s a good news story, reports executive editor, Bob Mowat in this week’s digital edition of CTP.

First up, the fact that ACTA will have a new president in place early in the new year is definitely a big deal. The successful candidate will be “someone a little bit different,” says Hiebert, adding “We took time to go through the job description and bring it into relevancy with what we need at ACTA. You know, the job is different today then it was 20 years ago. The needs are different. The voice needs to be different. The message needs to be different. So, I think we took some time to talk about what we thought we needed.”

Following the retirement of long-time president Dave McCaig last fall, ACTA began its search in mid-November and will continue to mid-December, at which point ACTA’s five-member search committee will bring a shortlist of candidates to the board for the final selection, with Hiebert promising, “We’ll take our time and do the process properly.”

To date, interest in the position has largely been from within the industry, which Hiebert says is important to ACTA. “We understand that everyone has a skill set that can be very valuable to ACTA, but we think that it’s important that this person has experience in the travel industry – just to gain the respect of the membership and to understand their needs. And moving forward they would have a better understanding of how things have changed and how things have evolved and perhaps where they’re [things] tending [to be going].”

Hiebert points out that ACTA has a varied focus – it’s an advocacy group, but it also needs to be aware of the needs of its members when it comes to promotion and education.

“Advocacy is a very big deal,” she says. “So this person will have quite a big job to make sure that all of these needs are met and to be able to have that voice, to be able to speak to the stakeholders at certain times when the need is present and to be effective [doing that].”

As for when ACTA members can expect their new advocate-in-chief, ACTA’s chair makes it clear that getting the best person for the job trumps expediency.

“I mean we would like to have someone in the position as soon as possible in the new year, but for us, the focus is [getting] the right person.”

For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press by clicking here.