NEW YORK -- ASTA is creating a task force to examine
existing and upcoming technologies that might affect travel agents.
Jay Ellenby, ASTA's chair and the president of Safe Harbors
Business Travel in Bel Air, Md., discussed the task force Sunday during the
Premium Business Summit at the Westin New York at Times Square.
Technology is an important topic, especially considering the
number of technology companies that are already in the travel space, like
Google, Ellenby said. New features and changes those companies are introducing
are exciting, but it's important for the industry to think about how to address
it going forward.
"We need to be in a better position to understand these
technologies," he said, like how agents can use systems and products to
According to Ellenby, task force members will have phone discussions
once or twice each quarter. They will report to the Society's board of
directors. The task force's goal will be to educate ASTA members, including at the annual
ASTA Global Convention and through webinars.
The task force is still being formed, and ASTA is looking
for volunteers. Marc Casto, president and CEO of Casto Travel in San Jose,
Calif., will be one of its co-chairs.
ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby also addressed technology
during the meeting -- specifically, artificial intelligence (AI).
Kerby said he hopes the agency community can embrace and
harness AI as the technology matures.
Simultaneously, the Society is also working to inform the
government of the amount of time and effort agents put into their careers.
Kerby said ASTA is emphasizing the importance of making it a mandate to inform
consumers chatting online whether they are interacting with an AI program or an
actual travel agent.