A Webinar held yesterday by ASTA to provide travel agents with tips and resources on weathering an economic downturn found, not surprisingly, that travel agents do not anticipate a quick turnaround to the economy.
Of those Webinar participants who responded to an online survey, 56 percent foresee a decrease in revenue in 2009, compared to 28 percent who believe their revenues will increase and another 16 percent who anticipate no change. Further, a large majority (87.5%) either have or plan to take steps to curtail salary-related expenses, be it a reduction in hours, positions and/or salaries all in response to the economic downturn, compared to 12.5 percent of respondents who say they will increase staff salaries and number of positions.
'It seems clear that the economy isn't headed for a quick fix. Now more than ever it's important for travel agents to align themselves with groups such as ASTA so that we can continue to have access to top-level business and marketing tools to help us successfully manage our business in uncertain times,' said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo. 'Targeted resources such as yesterday's Webinar are vital to travel agents' success when faced with a challenging business environment.'
The Webinar included suggestions which agents can immediately implement along examples from ASTA members who have already taken creative approaches to shoring up their businesses. Among the tips offered were:
-Consider a Work Share program in lieu of a layoff. If your agency is located in a state that has implemented a Work Share program you may be able to avoid lay-offs by reducing the work week and using unemployment insurance funds to pay workers short-time compensation. ASTA members can access a white paper on Work Share programs, as well as a contact list for states that offer Work Share programs on ASTA.org.
-During slow periods, have employees update your customer database, or, if you do not have one, develop one. Market your services to new and old customers.
-Considering buying an agency. Take this opportunity to grow your business though acquisitions. Information on buying and selling an agency can be found in ASTA's eLibrary.
-Use the tools at your disposal. ASTA's Travel Agent's Management Toolkit includes a balance sheet, agent productivity / profitability tool and operating expense tool to help you benchmark your business against other agencies. On Jan. 21, ASTA will hold a Webinar focused on Using the Travel Agent's Management Toolkit in Today's Economy. Registration information can be found on ASTA.org in the industry calendar.
A recording of this session will be made available on ASTA's video/audio library on ASTA.org. ASTA members may access the full set of tips as well as other resources for weathering an economic crisis, on ASTA.org.
The mission of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. ASTA seeks a retail travel marketplace that is profitable and growing and a rewarding field in which to work, invest and do business.