February 28, 2019
Alexandria, VA, February 28, 2019 – It has been brought to our attention that The Today Show ran a segment on the value of Costco Travel deals, comparing those deals to Online Travel Agencies (OTA) and direct supplier bookings. We understand and share the concern that our members have with travel discounting by membership clubs like Costco, a practice that has caused some cruise lines to stop distributing their products through those channels.
In our industry, competition is fierce, and no travel advisor can survive long if they do not find ways to continuously promote their value to their clients. In that sense, the uproar over this likely pay-for-play segment presents an opportunity to educate both journalists and consumers about travel advisors' value.
Travel advisors are a diverse group, many with specialties and niche expertise that delivers high value to their clients. Finding the “best price” is not the same as finding the “best value.” What a good travel advisor will do is find the price and service combination that best meets the traveler’s needs and wants.
Further, an advisor’s focus on “duty of care” – helping safeguard travelers from harm and keeping them informed when things go wrong – is priceless. What do you do if you find yourself amid a horrific storm (or worse)? Who is there to rebook your flights, cancel or rebook your hotel reservations, provide you with new options smartly and expeditiously? Your travel advisor. You cannot buy that sort of peace of mind in bulk at Costco.
We are reaching out directly to The Today Show to make these points and to drive home the many virtues of working with an advisor. The next time they run a piece on travel deals, we will tell them to work with an ASTA member advisor rather than a Fortune 500 company. Separately, we are concerned that this segment may constitute paid advertising without disclosure, in violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s advertising endorsement regulations.
Discerning consumers will not be deceived by lazy journalism and thinly-veiled commercials, and know there is a difference between price and value – to get the best value for your travel dollar, call your local ASTA travel advisor.
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.