A Note from Liz

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iz McKinney was a familiar figure in the travel business for many years.

She started in the airline business but is best known for her work with the Boyd School, a Pittsburgh-based travel industry training organization. In the course of her time there, she successfully placed hundreds of people in their first industry positions.

Throughout her career, Liz was a great friend of travel agents. She was active in ASTA and was instrumental in developing professional education programs.

No longer connected with the industry, Liz continues to follow the fortunes of travel agencies with keen interest. She is particularly interested in the way in which the relationship between carriers and agencies has changed over the years.

In a note she sent to me recently, Liz applauded the resilience of agencies in modifying their businesses to cope with the loss of airline compensation.

"My hat is off to all the wonderful travel agents who have weathered this storm," she wrote. "They will succeed in spite of the airlines and be stronger for their efforts. They have already proven they can not be beaten down.

"They have been hurt by their "partners in travel," but they risen above it and have found that they have true "partners in business" in their loyal clients.

"Many of my dear friends in the industry have used this platform to jump into a totally different business culture. I truly believe travel agents, who for the most part were small business owners, always felt they worked for the airlines. Now they know they are business owners working in travel. They will succeed."

Liz put her finger on the key to success for travel agencies, a shift in focus that has allowed agencies to view themselves as the client's advocate far more than as the supplier's representative.

In a sense, the airlines have done agencies a favor. By reducing compensation, they have forced agencies to concentrate more effectively on serving their clientele. As long as they continue to do that job well, agencies will prosper.

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