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 their advantage.

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.

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