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Signature Travel makes ASTA membership a requirement

Signature Travel makes ASTA membership a requirement
Recognizing that the entire agency community depends on a strong national trade association, Signature Travel Network told its members on Thursday that they will be required to belong to the American Society of Travel Agents, effective Jan. 1.

ASTA said the Signature board's decision is not only a vote of confidence in the work of the society, but is a crucial financial underpinning to ASTA's long-term success.

'As I told Signature president and ceo Alex Sharpe and members of the board, this is truly a defining moment in our history,' ASTA president and ceo Zane Kerby told the Signature Owners Meeting in Carlsbad, Calif. 'It is only through harnessing the strength of the entire agency community that ASTA can be successful defending the agency community against what is often much larger adversaries, as well as promoting it with a sometimes skeptical public.'

ASTA will be seeking this type of cooperation from more members like Signature, a company that generates more than $6bn per year in travel sales.

'As we plan our advocacy efforts further into the future, we need to be on a solid financial footing and have critical mass behind,' Kerby said. 'Alex and the Signature board of directors understand what ASTA brings to the table, and that the entire agency community must speak with one harmonious voice.'

Marina del Rey, Calif.-based Signature is a member-owned cooperative of more than 195 agency businesses with 442 retail locations throughout the US and Canada.

Sharpe noted ASTA’s advocacy role was critical in his decision to mandate membership. He called ASTA an 'insurance policy' for his members, saying, 'Belonging to ASTA is like outsourcing legal and regulatory consultants. We simply wouldn’t survive in this business without the work that ASTA does on our behalf.'

Noting that one of the most common concerns he hears from his members is 'the ability to find and recruit the next generation of consultants,' Sharpe said ASTA’s vast educational resources are also invaluable.

It is the second agreement ASTA has signed with a consortium this year. In June the MAST Travel Network agreed to pay a portion of the ASTA membership dues for any member who desires to join.