Alexandria, Va., March 20, 2002 - In an effort to broaden the reach of its government and industry affairs efforts, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has created the ASTA Corporate Advisory Council. The Council is comprised of a select number of leading travel agencies, franchisors and consortia whose purpose it is to advise the Society`s leadership in setting policy and to provide a forum where major industry leaders can discuss developments in the travel industry.
“The industry is changing fast and so is the Society. We are more inclusive and want to establish an open dialogue with the large agency groups to accomplish our goals. We believe the best way to do this is through the Corporate Advisory Council. This Council provides leadership for the industry in a representative role,” said ASTA President and CEO Richard M. Copland, CTC.
The Corporate Advisory Council, which is chaired by U. Gary Charlwood, Chairman and CEO of UNIGLOBE Travel International, met immediately after the Delta cut was announced.
“The Council`s members are certainly disappointed with the timing of Delta`s announcement in that the industry was just coming out of a major economic downturn and the fallout associated with 9/11. That said, the companies represented by the Council saw this coming and we`re prepared. Our only real surprise is that the carriers did not look more closely at other costs such as GDS and credit card expenses as well as their own costs of fulfilment, all of which are more expensive than the retail travel channel,” said Charlwood.
The Council discussed the concepts contained in a White Paper, developed by Hal Rosenbluth, a member of the Council, and his executive team. Primarily, the Rosenbluth paper suggests that airlines determine a fulfilment fee structure to cover the real costs of distributing a ticket that applies to all airline tickets that go through any distribution channel including the airline industry itself.
“As the zero-commission announcements seem to be a continuation of the trend to isolate travel agents, key members of the Council urge the leadership of North America`s airline industry to seriously consider
the fulfilment fee concept. This would remove the illusion that retail travel agents are an added cost. Additionally, this would address airline costs for ticket distribution - a win-win for all parties.
“This would also afford the public the opportunity of continuing to deal with travel agents who deliver unbiased and more readily accessible service and remove the mirage that other go-direct choices are cheaper. In reality, these internal costs are adding to airline losses…something that cannot be popular with Wall Street nor with airline shareholders,” said Charlwood.
The fulfilment fee concept is receiving widespread industry attention. Individual companies from the Corporate Council have already contacted the air carriers to propose this as a win-win solution to the zero-base commission landscape the industry entered last week.
The following members of the Council support further progression of the fulfilment fee concept through industry discussion: Vacation.com, UNIGLOBE Travel International, Total Travel Management, Northwestern Travel, TraveLeaders Group and RADIUS.
Along with Charlwood, and Rosenbluth, the Corporate Advisory Council counts the following as its members: Roger Block, Executive Vice President, Carlson Travel Franchise Group; Richard Barton, President & CEO, Expedia, Inc.; Brent Garback, Chairman, Total Travel Management; Terrell Jones, President & CEO, Travelocity.com, Inc.; Richard Knodt, CEO, Vacation.com; John Noble, Chairman & CEO, Northwestern Travel; Keith St. Clair, Chairman & CEO, TraveLeaders Group; Paul Shamon, VP, Navigant International, Inc.; and Allan Slan, Executive Vice President, RADIUS.
About ASTA: The mission of the American Society of Travel Agents and its affiliate organizations is to enhance the professionalism and profitability of members worldwide through effective representation in industry and government affairs, education and training, and by identifying and meeting the needs of the traveling public. The Society is the world`s largest and most influential travel trade association with over 24,000 members in 140 countries.