January 28, 2016
ASTA Communication Department
Alexandria, VA, January 28, 2016—The Western Association of Travel Agencies (WESTA), recognizing what the American Society of Travel agents (ASTA) does for its members and the agency community as a whole, has chosen to subsidize membership in ASTA for WESTA members.
The member-owned marketing cooperative, which has approximately 150 agency members mainly in California, Oregon and Washington, is making it possible for a WESTA agency member to belong to ASTA for $199 per year if their annual sales are under $5 million or $399 per year if their annual sales are between $5 million and $10 million.
"There is no better time to bring more WESTA members into the ASTA family and get their profiles seen by more consumers in our Membership Directory," said Zane Kerby, ASTA President and CEO. "We have several initiatives already in the works in 2016 to market the value of travel agents to the traveling public. We also are heading West in September for our Global Convention in Reno Tahoe. We hope to meet many new WESTA members there."
WESTA Chief Operating Officer Mike Estill said, "For what works out to less than $17 a month, ASTA member agencies get a huge return on a very modest investment. They get a strong partner watching their backs in both DC and their state capital, participation in a high-profile consumer outreach program promoting retail agencies and a direct channel to insider industry knowledge that would be difficult to find elsewhere at any price. That might be the best seventeen bucks you ever spent on your agency."
In addition to consumer awareness initiatives, WESTA's support will broaden ASTA's reach on the West Coast and build on successful advocacy campaigns such as one last year that pushed the Washington legislature to keep in place a special tax rate for travel agent commission income. ASTA and WESTA members played a critical role in opposing a proposal that would have cost Washington travel agencies and tour operators more than $14 million over two years, including testifying at hearings and making their case through phone calls, face-to-face meetings and in more than 200 advocacy messages sent to state policymakers through ASTA's online grassroots site. "Even though we were successful in 2015, we must remain vigilant in protecting our members' hard-earned paychecks from hungry state coffers," said Kerby.
ASTA began signing membership agreements in early 2014 with those consortia members that wanted to pave the way financially for their members to benefit in ASTA. This has helped ASTA to steadily grow membership, which continues today.
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.