From the start, carrying out our mission has meant promoting professionalism and advocating with legislators and suppliers for our members, our industry and the traveling public. Because travelers depend on travel advisors and others affiliated with ASTA to guide them honestly and competently, ASTA members are required to conduct their business activities in accordance with the ASTA Code of Ethics. This promotes professionalism in the industry and trust among the general public.
The COVID-19 crisis serves as a great example of our mission in action. Travel advisors were among the true heroes of the pandemic, working tirelessly to get stranded clients home when flights and borders were shut down and helping clients deal with pandemic-related cancelations, schedule changes and the ever-shifting rules and regulations around the world. Because of the economics of the industry, travel advisors workloads grew exponentially at the same time that their commission payments were being delayed, slashed. and too often, wiped out.
One of the reasons many agencies and advisors could survive and continue serving the traveling public was that behind the scenes, ASTA was fulfilling its advocacy role as champion of the travel agency community Thanks to our advocacy team and the support of our member-volunteers, ASTA successfully persuaded Congress to include travel agencies in the industries covered under the CARES Act and receive Paycheck Protection (PPP) and Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) funding and to enable independent contractors to receive unemployment benefits for the first time ever.
The pandemic also kicked our role as educators into high gear as our team produced live and taped webinars and live Q&A sessions that helped the travel agency community understand and navigate the red tape to access these funds. We also provided lists of official resources so our members could stay on top of the latest CDC guidance and other information vital to our members and their clients.
Our rich educational programing continues to help keep travel advisors at the top of their game and promotes professionalism via courses on everything from accounting and artificial intelligence to marketing and social media. Verified Travel Advisor (
VTA) certification is the pinnacle of our training, and brings added benefits to advisors and helps promote confidence among consumers.
Our mission also extends to educating the travel and consumer media and the general public about the value of using a travel advisor, and we work closely with the media every day to ensure that our story is being told. The need for a travel advisor was never more apparent than during the pandemic, and our public relations team shared the stories of the many travel advisors who went above and beyond in a “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” #TravelHero campaign.
Our outreach to the general public takes a big step with our new website, where travelers can search our directory for travel advisors who match their needs, submit a trip request which will be forwarded as leads to members, or opt to use a Verified Travel Advisor (VTA) and explore destinations and find expert travel advice featuring our members.