By David Jones
WASHINGTON -- National Business Travel Association executive
director Norm Sherlock said he expects a strong interest from
corporate travel agencies to join the organization following the
landmark vote at last month's convention in St. Louis.
Travel managers, by a margin of more than 80%, voted last month
to allow travel agents into NBTA, the nation's largest group
representing the business travel industry. Sherlock said that, of
the agencies who participated in this year's convention, most
indicated they plan to join the organization.
"We have 26 travel agencies of varying size and varying focus
that were at the convention this year," he said. "Many if not all
of them will want to take out multiple memberships."
Multiple memberships are designed for companies with several
subsidiaries, such as multinational companies. The multiple
membership allows a company to take out a membership for a one-time
fee of $1,260, after which individuals within the company can apply
for memberships for $310 in the first year and then $260 in
succeeding years. Many travel managers who work for large companies
have multiple memberships because many companies have different
travel managers for different subsidiaries.
Sherlock said he did not perceive any lingering tension between
travel managers and travel agents, as evidenced by the fact that
more than 80% of travel managers voted to let agents in the
organization. However, many travel agents at the conference did
speak of residual feelings of resentment on the part of some travel
NBTA delegates voted several times before to allow travel agents
into the organization and each time failed to get the required
two-thirds majority to change its bylaws. Sherlock said the key to
this year's vote was the decision by NBTA's board to push the
admittance of agents. "Unquestionably, the deciding factor was the
board of directors taking a firm position in recommending its
adoption to the membership and actually doing a very strong job of
selling the reasons why it made sense," he said.