From its organizational meeting in New York in 1931 through stops
in such diverse locales as French Lick, Ind. (1947), Athens (1967),
Singapore (1986) and Los Angeles last year, seldom if ever in its
68 previous convocations has ASTA confronted tougher challenges
than those facing delegates to its World Travel Congress assembling
in Strasbourg, France, starting Sunday.
To be sure, retailers -- ASTA members and not -- are being
buffeted by another round of punishing commission cuts that,
together with Internet-based invitations to self-booking, bargains
and bypass, constitutes a direct attack on the traditional travel
agency distribution system.
Poised precariously, then, on the cusp of a new millennium at
once imbued with boundless promise and fraught with peril, the
retail community looks to its leaders for unity, resourcefulness
and, yes, courage in this time of adversity.
Is the pressure on ASTA to produce? Without question, but such
is the burden of leadership earned through decades of successful
There's a lot on the line in Strasbourg, and we wish the Society
well in its endeavors there.
Day of Awareness
Travel agents nationwide can share in the pride of ASTA's Rocky
Mountain chapter, which staged a 90-minute Day of Awareness
demonstration on the steps of the capitol building in Denver.
While it was hardly a "million-agent march," the rally attracted
about 500 retailers and a smattering of clients, a pretty good
turnout under the circumstances.
Best of all, media coverage was said to be extensive, which
means attention was drawn to the commission cuts and to the value
of agents to consumers.
If this kind of rally worked in Denver, why not elsewhere?