BTC has read with interest stories and postings in the travel industry trade press regarding President Obama’s well-intentioned comments about technology and travel agents and industry and media response to them and each other. One central element would appear missing from the discussion and that is what we think inside the industry about this issue is largely irrelevant.
Meetings destinations like Las Vegas no doubt vividly remember the immediate and painful impact on business from the President’s words a couple of years ago, as did the corporate aviation business. Road warriors, once-a-year leisure travelers and young, up and coming business travelers recently heard over and again the President’s influential comments about travel agents. ASTA responded early in the news cycle to help prevent a perception of travel agents as yesterday’s resource from becoming an intractable false reality in the marketplace.
In BTC’s view, ASTA did the right thing to safeguard the business of its members. Likewise, industry consortium Travel Leaders also fired back at the President, ostensibly to protect its business. It’s simply a prudent and necessary business response. To its credit ASTA’s strategy seems to have succeeded as evidenced by consumer business press coverage that included ASTA’s perspective in publications such as USA TODAY, The Economist and The Los Angeles Times.
Industry insiders screeching about business models, technology, new paradigms, erroneous statistics and the mistaken notion that ASTA is yearning for a bygone era are, in BTC’s view, inwardly focused and overlooking the central point of ASTA’s effective response to a potential threat to its members’ businesses. Congratulations to ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar and ASTA for providing the precisely required leadership at the exact moment it was needed!