Benefits of joining a Trade Association for Travel Agents
Associations in general work towards the advantage of the industry as a whole which they represent. So being a member of these associations means that your business is sure to get a boost whether it is through the wealth of knowledge that they provide to their members, the network they help you create with other businesses or to help you get customers which is the ultimate aim of running any business.
There are no two ways about the fact that joining a travel association will tremendously impact your business in a lot of ways and will even open a whole host of opportunities and knowledge that will prove to be useful for you and will arm you with adequate knowledge to run your business more efficiently and productively.
Some of the benefits that travel associations have on your business are mentioned below.
Networking and Business Development
As a travel agent or a tour operator being a member of a travel association will give you a great networking opportunity. You can connect with your contemporaries in the travel industry and engage yourself with lucrative businesses and build professional relations with them. For instance, Prestigious organisation PATA( Pacific Asia Travel Association) helps connect people through targeted educational and training events, which helps in bringing people with similar goals to come under one roof to learn. Connecting and building new business relationships is an added advantage of such programs.
In short, travel associations help you bridge the gap between you and your competitors. Getting to know other like-minded people of the travel industry may help you build strong alliances that will be helpful in getting support if required and also getting new customers.
Professional Development and Learning
Travel associations serve as great sources of learning. There are various ways in which they offer learning opportunities to their members. With technological advancements getting educated about the latest trends and technologies is not an out of reach thing for anybody. e-learning is is one such way in which these associations train and educate their members. For example they can use synchronous (live videos) or asynchronous (recorded videos) to educate about the latest technologies and how travel agents can use them to make their business better.
They provide certifications and scholarships to make you a pro at your business. You can update yourself with the latest travel trends and industry standards and adapt your business to them. For instance, if you are in the trekking business then you may get to learn about the in depth aspects of trekking like what are the health requirements for trekkers before going on the trek and a lot more. When you become a certified trekking guide then you can advice your customers about the pre-requisites of trekking.
Another example is that, if you are a travel agent and you learn that people today travel to regions or countries that are famous for their lip-smacking and delectable cuisines, you can create and offer packages to such places that provide unique gastronomical experience. So, getting to learn new things will help you come up with innovative ideas to attract new customers and hence get better business.
Help in building customer trust
Membership of a reputed association reassures your existing customers or potential customers of the credibility of your business and will help you have a loyal customer base and even expand it. When you are a member of a travel association your business projects a positive image in the minds of the customers. Additionally, it gives your potential customers a reason to choose you over your business competitors.
Offer financial protection schemes
Many reputed travel associations also offer financial protection to their members and ensure that their money is safe and is repatriated if you go out of business. Many associations offer levels of memberships which offer different packages. Financial protection from the association may be one of them and you can choose according to your requirement.
They may even offer professional insurance for your business. For instance Surfing Australia is an organisation for the surfing industry and it offers personal accident insurance in their membership scheme.
Travel associations can lobby or work closely with the government for the benefit of your industry to develop and implement better trade laws because they understand the challenges and issues that are faced by the industry and being a part of them will surely make your life a lot easier. In short, they act as a voice of the travel industry.
There may be new rules and regulations implemented by the government to which you have and easy access through your association. This may help you adapt to these new regulations or even help you prepare to lobby to change such guidelines collectively as members of the association.
So, whether you are a hotelier, tour operator, travel agent or an airline, if you and your business experience obstacles or have a shortage of capital for your business, or do not have sufficient knowledge, your association will take the best possible measures to support you and help you build your business.
Members of travel associations can help you save a lot of money because as associations they have greater power to crack deals with suppliers based on higher volumes of buying on behalf of their members and then they can offer their members these negotiated deals at discounted rates. Lower costs of doing business in turn will reflect in the higher margins of profit. This will help you create packages for your customers at discounted rates also. So, it is a win-win situation for all the entities of the travel industry from the suppliers to the customers.
Thus, we can say that investing in a travel association may appear very expensive but with the number of benefits that it offers far outshines the price factor attached to it and are sure to convince you to join one. In fact it is value for money and an investment in knowledge and your travel business that will eventually lead to higher efficiency, productivity and ROI for your business. If you are willing to become a member of a travel association then you will surely derive maximum benefit from being a part of it and actively working towards achieving your travel business’s goals.
Some prominent travel associations across the world are IATA (International Air Transport Association), U.S. Travel Association, ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents), PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association), Africa Travel Association, WTAAA (World Travel Agents Association Alliance), ATTA (Adventure Travel Trade Association), ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents), TAAI (Travel Agents Association of India).
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