SAN JUAN -- ASTA is using Norwegian Cruise Line's $250,000 donation to attract new talent, said ASTA CEO Zane Kerby at the ASTA Global Convention here.
The goal, he said, is to recruit "hundreds, if not thousands" of new travel advisors.
NCL announced its donation last fall and said the funds were meant as an investment in an important sales channel to the cruise line.
Kerby said ASTA is using targeted marketing to drive potential advisors to its resources on becoming an advisor, like the free "Career Overview: Becoming a Travel Advisor," and the "Roadmap to Becoming a Travel Advisor" course.
During the convention, ASTA provided an early look at a new commercial about becoming an advisor. It highlighted job upsides, like "unlimited earning potential," geographic flexibility to work anywhere and the chance to have a career that one loves.
It ended with the tagline "We'll take you there" and ASTA's information.
A path to a career for travel advisors
Mark Meader, ASTA's senior vice president of industry affairs and education, spoke about the Society's educational offerings during a press conference. Norwegian's donation has enabled the society to "dramatically" expand its offerings, he said.
ASTA's goal has been to provide prospective advisors a path from initial interest to seasoned travel advisor. The first stop is a free PDF that will enable prospective advisors to hone in on their area of focus.
Next up is more holistic training via the roadmap course, which is essentially a precursor to agency- or consortia-specific training an advisor might encounter, Meader said.
Four new modules will be launched as part of the course this May that focus on different types of advisors: W2 employees, corporate advisors, hosted independent contractors (ICs) and fully independent ICs. Students will have access to all four modules.
The corporate travel advisor training, in particular, fills a gap in the marketplace, Meader said.
Mentorship program in the works
ASTA is also working to formalize a mentorship program, according to Meader. It will match ASTA members with newer agents looking to enhance their skills and professionalism while building valuable relationships.
In short, Meader said, ASTA hopes the program will help "build a pipeline of future leaders" as well as enhance diversity and equity initiatives by pairing mentors and mentees from different backgrounds.
The pilot program of 10 mentors and 10 mentees is accepting registrations through mid-May, then the program will run for six months as ASTA further develops it for future iterations.
Global Travel Advisor Day
This year was the first that ASTA moved its convention from August to May. The event happens to coincide with Global Travel Advisor Day on May 3.
The convention takes place at a time when the industry is healthy and growing with travel sales outpacing pre-pandemic levels, Kerby said. Advisors are busier than ever, which he called "music to our ears."
Nearly 1,000 attendees, more than 500 of them travel advisors, were in attendance, Kerby said. The conference is being held at the Puerto Rico Convention Center.