ASTA CEO talks about attracting new travel advisors at D.C. event

Demand for travel advisors is high, and ASTA is hoping to meet that demand by attracting and developing new talent.

The need for new advisors was a hot topic on Tuesday during ASTA’s Travel Industry Forecast at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The forecast was held prior to ASTA Legislative Day, the Society’s annual fly-in where members meet with legislators and talk about important issues.

ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby said the old narrative of a dying profession has gone away.

“For decades, the hardworking men and women in our industry were told that they were a dying breed,” Kerby said. “Study after study talked about the countless reasons travel advisors were no longer needed.”

However, he said, “Travel advisor business has never been better.”

Public sentiment about the importance of advisors continues to grow, he said, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a 20% growth in travel advisors from 2021 to 2031. That statistic is considered “much faster than average,” according to the bureau.

“Travel is complex. Time is scarce for all of us and money is scarce for most of us,” Kerby said. “Would you rather rely on your own deductive powers, or trust someone who has been to New Zealand 20 times and knows all the ins and outs and has built a successful business dispensing valuable advice?”

As more consumers turn to advisors, more people need to join the industry as advisors to meet that growing demand, Kerby said.

“Workers toiling in other industries should and are giving a career in travel a new look,” he said.

Now, one of ASTA’s top goals is to attract new talent. 

The Society has recently revamped its industry orientation training, Kerby said, and “thousands” have downloaded its overview of travel advising as a career. Further, “hundreds” are taking its Roadmap to Becoming a Travel Advisor course.

A $250,000 donation from Norwegian Cruise Line helped ASTA revamp the training it offers.

“Norwegian’s generous support has helped us rapidly build the top of the talent funnel, and we will nurture this audience and ultimately match them with their best path for selling travel,” Kerby said.

Norwegian Cruise Line senior vice president of North American sales John Chernesky at ASTA’s Travel Industry Forecast at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

John Chernesky, NCL’s senior vice president of North American sales, said travel advisors are needed to meet demand. Chernesky called selling travel an attractive profession with plenty of opportunities.

“If Delta doesn’t have pilots, they’re not going to be flying planes,” he said. “And we need travel advisors to do all the great work that is needed to keep us going.”

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