The National Business Travel Association's vote to admit agents
builds a bridge that should enhance agents' and managers'
relationships with one another.
It allows retailers to join, but without voting rights,
preserving the integrity of the corporate travel managers'
It will grant agents partnership status and greater access to
the benefit of networking with corporations and their
It will offer a forum for greater dialogue between agents and
corporate managers. We think that's all to the good.
It also casts further into the background a lingering distrust
of agents from NBTA's old guard, who wanted to keep the
organization purely corporate.
The association previously had voted on the issue three times
and last year approved by a majority agents' admittance, but the
margin was not large enough to satisfy the group's two-thirds
requirement for a bylaws change.
Yet many of its chapters had opened their doors to agents as
full members, and many agents regularly attended the association's
Thanks to lobbying by Judie Shyman, president of NBTA and its
board, who argued, for one, that the world is full of partnerships
and alliances, the association has put the issue behind it.
The NBTA's corporate members wear a great many hats and hold a
hodgepodge of titles ranging from travel to procurement and
transportation activities. Arguably, they share more differences
with one another than with agents.
They are faced with huge decisions, including whether to adopt
corporate self-booking products. The irony of the vote is that many
agents could wind up with a smaller role in the corporate world if
these products should catch on.
Correction: In the July 10 issue, this page incorrectly quoted
the Air Transport Association as estimating that a proposal to
collect passenger manifest data for domestic flights would cost
$7.2 million annually. The association's figure was a typical
start-up cost for collecting the data by one major airline