The industry celebrated National Travel Agent Day accordingly Wednesday, with everything from social media campaigns to cash deals from suppliers.
ASTA has been posting about the day on social media using the hashtags #TravelAgentDay and #ASTAagents, and encouraging agents to do the same with their own posts or by reposting ASTA's assets. The Society also announced a number of promotions it lined up for members, such as bonus commissions and prize drawings.
Additionally, the Society was also encouraging agents to be an advocate for themselves and their peers by contacting lawmakers, and to share their stories with local media outlets. ASTA provided sample letters to congress and letters to the editor for agents to use.
CLIA also got in on the action, sending out a release highlighting "five reasons to book a cruise vacation with a travel agent."
"Travel agents play a vital role in the vacation experience, acting as a cruise line matchmaker, planning guide, budget advisor and travel consultant for travelers," CLIA president and CEO Cindy D'Aoust said in a statement. "Agents offer an unmatched service to both first-time and seasoned travelers in providing a stress-free travel experience."
Virtuoso was running a social media campaign for National Travel Advisor Day (the consortium modified its name in keeping with its preferred term "advisor" for agents), sharing posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. The posts are focused on the value of agents.
Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. have created a video in honor of National Travel Agent Day, called "Why Use a Travel Agent," customized to each brand. The video is designed for agents to share with friends, family and clients. Additionally, the World Travel Holdings brands each had a special landing page on their websites celebrating National Travel Agent Day.
Cruise Planners is also marking the day.
"We're excited to see this 'holiday' gain more recognition because travel agents are such an important part of people's lives by helping craft lifelong vacation memories, and we believe that our Cruise Planners travel agents are the best in the business and exhibit 'Cruisitude' on a daily basis, which is a passion for life, travel and positivity," said CEO and co-founder Michelle Fee. "Cruise Planners is celebrating Travel Agent Day by recognizing their agents through internal communications, social media channels and through their consumer marketing programs reaching their clients with exclusive savings in honor of Travel Agent Day."
Suppliers are celebrating agents, too.
Joe Jiffo, senior vice president of sales at MSC Cruises, gave away a seven-night cruise aboard the MSC Seaside to an agent at the Travel Leaders Network 2017 International Conference in Orlando. Jiffo said he did a drawing of agents who had completed the MSC Academy, a learning platform, to select a winner -- Patti Cardozo, of Tours & Cruises Unlimited in Hudson, Fla. -- in honor of National Travel Agent Day.
Royal Caribbean International gave every agent who made a booking on May 3 a chance at a $150 gift card. In total, 10 were up for grabs.
Travelex Insurance Services held a drawing to award an agent with a Travel Solve Plus annual travel protection plan, valued at $415, or a $200 Visa gift card.
"Travel agents are the backbone of the travel industry," Christine Buggy, vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "From luxury vacations to business travel, we owe travel agents our gratitude for being the go-to advisors for all aspects of travel."
The Mark Travel Corp. was offering agents $10 in bonus cash for booking air and hotel packages (minimum three nights) on its brands Funjet Vacations, Southwest Vacations, United Vacations and Blue Sky Tours on May 3.
Travel Impressions is running a contest for 250,000 LoyalTI First points -- every FIT booking made from May 3 to 31 by registered agents will count as one entry for the points. LoyalTI first enables agents to redeem points for rewards, and 250,000 could be used for some significant items like a Kenmore front-loading washer and dryer set, over $2,000 worth of gift cards to restaurants and retailers, or a Tumi suitcase and Canon SLR camera, Travel Impressions said.
Apple Vacations is honoring agents throughout the month of May with a variety of giveaways and prizes for bookings at participating hotels made from May 1 to 28 (for travel through Dec. 15). For instance, nine agents with the most bookings to each Apple partner hotel chain will be given four-night stays. The agencies that sell the most, divided by region (East/Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Western), will win lunch for the office.
Apple has also introduced a Bingo game, in which agents enter the booking number of stays booked at participating destinations and resorts on a Bingo card. When they reach Bingo and submit their cards, they will be entered into a drawing for a $250 cash bonus. Additionally, the first 100 agents who win will be given a $100 cash bonus.
Additionally, agents who register for Apple's newly revamped agent portal Travel Agent Cafe this month will be entered into a daily drawing for a $25 Dunkin' Donuts gift card.
"Travel Agent Appreciation Month is just one of the many ways we show gratitude to the retail community and thank them for their continued support, hard work and loyalty," Apple president Tim Mullen said in a statement.
Travel Agent Day comes just before National Travel and Tourism Week, which is May 7 to 13. It was established in 1983 and is led by the U.S. Travel Association. Some are already offering promotions for that, as well, like the Guides Association of New York City, which is offering free tours in New York.