I am a creature of habit. What some people might think of as a rut,
I think of as freedom within structure. So, whenever I land in
another city, my first order of business is to set up a routine.
Part of that routine is establishing a "local." In Strasbourg, a
little pool hall in Petite France fit the bill.
The first person I met there was a Strasbourg travel agent,
Andre Laget. Over the course of a few days we had several
conversations about the industry and about the ASTA congress. Andre
wasn't too keen on the convention. Why? Because, he said, local
travel agents didn't see one dime of revenue from the event.
According to Andre, a group of local agencies had been
brainstorming with Strasbourg city officials about the ASTA show
for more than a year when the rug was pulled out from under them.
All of the ASTA business, ground transportation, beds, meetings,
the whole nine yards -- business the local agencies fully expected
to get -- went to a Parisian firm, he said.
The reason? City officials apparently felt that the local talent
wasn't polished enough to handle such an important event. The
larger Paris firm, they said, was more reliable than the group of
smaller Strasbourg agencies that had pooled their resources to
develop an ASTA proposal.
The upshot is that while Strasbourg's hotels and restaurants are
raking in the ASTA dough, local travel agents are left twisting in
the wind. What a raw deal.