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
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
"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
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.