Last updated: 01:07 PM ET, Tue June 09 2015

Travel Talent for Tomorrow Initiative Addresses Agency Workforce Needs

Travel Agent | June 09, 2015

Travel Talent for Tomorrow Initiative Addresses Agency Workforce Needs

PHOTO: With nearly 70 percent of the travel agent workforce set to retire in the next 5-10 years, Travel Talent for Tomorrow hopes to encourage younger talent entering the industry. (Courtesy of Thinkstock)

Tourism Cares and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) announce a new program to help travel agencies answer key workforce challenges of today, and the future. Travel Talent for Tomorrow launches with a pilot agent mentoring program this year, followed in 2016 by a professional development grant competition designed to generate innovative solutions for agencies. 

The pilot mentoring program, funded for 2015 by ASTA, ASTA’s Mid America/Allegheny and Southeast chapters, travAlliancemedia and Marriott International, debuts at the 2015 ASTA Global Convention (AGC) in August. Twelve under-40 millennial agents will be matched with experienced mentors for leadership development, industry education and to facilitate peer networking.

“ASTA is grateful to the industry partners launching the new Tourism Cares mentoring program at AGC. By providing a meaningful educational experience to young agents, and matching them with their more experienced peers, the new mentoring program will provide a much needed professional development opportunity for young agents,” said Zane Kerby, president and CEO of ASTA. 

Kerby noted that travel agents account for 45 percent of all air sales, 12 percent of hotel sales, approximately two-thirds of cruise line and tour operator sales and generate $100 billion in overall sales for the travel industry.  

“Agents really are the lifeblood of the industry,” said Mike Rea, CEO of Tourism Cares. “We’re thrilled to support them with this tried-and-true mentoring model, based on our long-established and successful NTA program.”

Rea said Tourism Cares and its program partners are responding to ASTA research indicating that 70 percent of the travel agent workforce – and its biggest revenue generators – are over 55 and will retire within 5-10 years, creating a gap of 18,000 management roles in travel agencies. 

“travAlliancemedia has been at the forefront of meeting the information needs of travel agents for more than a decade,” said Mark Murphy, CEO of travAlliance Media. “We understand how this program will expand that focus and help the travel agency channel move forward. We are excited to be a key launch partner.”

The second phase of the program, with 2016 seed funding from Marriott International, will expand the initiative to support agencies with programs and grant funding to enhance professional development and retention of young agents.  Grant applicants will be evaluated for impact, innovation, and scalability to the larger workforce challenge.

“The industry is faced with significant challenges, and there will not be any one magic bullet solution,” said Rea. “But we think that with the right supports, the answers can come from the agent community itself.”

Tourism Cares has secured half of the funding for the small grants program from Marriott International, and is seeking support from new partners and additional ASTA chapters.

“With the generational shift rapidly approaching, filling the talent gap the travel industry is facing is more critical than ever,” said Cynthia Perry, global director, Travel Industry Sales for Marriott International. “Marriott understands that in order to ensure that travel agencies continue to attract, educate and retain next generation agents and managers, we must come together as an industry to support programs such as this.” 

Nominations for the Travel Talent for Tomorrow Mentoring Program opened this week. To apply, or for more information, visit

SOURCE: Tourism Cares press release


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