August 11, 2015
Alexandria, VA, August 11, 2015 – "Suppliers have the right to market their product however they choose, as long as the advertisements are legal and truthful. Marriott's new marketing campaign, which tells consumers that they can only find the best rates on Marriott.com, is not only disparaging to travel agents, but also misleading to the traveling public.
"Professional travel agents help consumers distinguish what brand may be the right fit for them based on the buyer's stated preferences and budget. In doing so, agents do not disparage an entire brand. They use their information sources, expertise and judgment to help consumers make the choice that is best for them in a marketplace teeming with options. This advice often involves price, but is also based on other factors that the consumer values. Therefore, it is incomprehensible that Marriott would position itself as just another price-driven brand while intentionally disparaging the same professional travel agents that Marriott selects to help market its services.
"This Marriott marketing campaign sends the message to consumers that the 'best' rates can only be found by booking direct. This statement is simply not true. Professional travel agents, using numerous tools at their disposal, have access to Marriott inventory at the same prices that appear on Marriott's website. ASTA calls upon Marriott to withdraw this marketing campaign immediately. ASTA will continue to educate the consumer about the breadth of experience and value that ASTA travel agents provide the traveling public. We will continue to resist in every available forum attempts to limit consumer choice. The consumer is best served by full access to comparative information and professional help. The professional travel agent is the best search engine the consumer can find."
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.