The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) is no more, today unveiling an entirely new organisation and structure complete with a new logo as it evolves into the Australian Travel Industry Association (ATIA).
Far from a mid-life crisis, it’s a rebirth or existential evolution for the organisation which first came on to the scene in 1957 as the burgeoning role of the travel agent began to take a more prominent role in society.
In the 66 years since, roles have changed, the industry has changed, society has changed and in the wake of a crippling pandemic that sent a seismic wave through all facets of it, the need for a modernised association to represent the entire travel industry has changed.
Two years in the making, the comprehensive change to the Australian Travel Industry Association brings with it a completely new identity and multifaceted structure that aims to better engage with its members, the wider industry and provide a greater voice to more people and businesses within it.
VIDEO: Hear the reaction to the launch of ATIA from the travel industry's leaders.
The change comes following the implementation earlier this year or a revised AFTA, now ATIA, Constitution which cemented the need for a rebrand to reflect the modern travel industry.
AFTA, now ATIA Chief Executive Officer, Dean Long, told Traveltalk that in the wake of a crippling pandemic that evolved how a modern travel advisor operates, so too does its representing body need to evolve.
“We've been in a really comprehensive review process since really before I came on board (in 2021),” Long said.
“It was a complete review of every aspect of the organisation, how we operated ATAS, how we were doing our advocacy, how we marketed ourselves, who we represented, how we represented, how we engaged with our members and our stakeholders.
“There have been about 2,000 businesses move through the ATAS system since it was created, so there's around 4,000 names because most have a business name and a trading name.
“And when we did the analysis on that there were only 14 businesses that use the word ‘agent’ or ‘agency’ in their name.
“It doesn't mean that's not how they were describing themselves to their clients. But they were choosing to present themselves as a consumer advocate to the public and to their customers. And as a result, we [AFTA] had a name that wasn't reflecting the existing membership that we have in the way that they were presenting themselves to the public.”
Long said the rebrand to ATIA doesn’t change anything relating to ATAS accreditation, with this system continuing to run in parallel as a consumer facing brand that symbolises excellence and professional accountability.
“In changing the name, what we're trying to do is change the key to access the doors that we need to open and to make sure that we're representing all of those travel businesses that can be ATAS accredited, that are paying their membership fees and to make sure they have a natural home within this ecosystem,” Long added.
Further to the rebrand, ATIA has today rolled out a new individual membership program which for $10 per month will be available to anybody working as a travel advisor around Australia who is eager to more closely associate themselves with the travel industry and give more power to ATIA to advocate to government on their behalf.
This monthly fee will give individual members access to a much more visible ATIA as an association and more transparency into what it does, along with access to discounted tickets to ATIA events such as the Women in Travel Summit, National Travel Industry Awards and more.
Members will also gain access to a new online portal called The Travel Exchange, a social exchange where they can join informative webinars, attend in-person networking events and access a range of exclusive offers and discounts to enjoy both within their roles and outside of work.
For ATIA, these individual memberships will allow it to better represent the number of businesses in various governmental electorates and push for elected representatives to budget better for travel facilitation and provide better services through DFAT such as Smartraveller and Passports.
An independent ATAS Advisory Committee will also be established to provide independent governance over the consumer-facing accreditation brand.
As part of the rebrand, ATIA has also today launched three peer engagement groups, known as caucuses, where different segments of the travel industry can liaise with others operating in the same, more specific, space to discuss issues unique to their segment of the travel industry and escalate these issues for ATIA to act.
The three caucuses launched today, which may increase or decrease based on engagement, include one solely for Independent Travel Advisors who are employed be a particular business; one for Home-based Travel Advisors who run their own business; and one for tour operators and wholesalers, of which ATIA has around 200 in its membership ranks.
Caucuses will be able to discuss their issues in dedicated online forums where peers can share advice, rally support and ultimately bring concerns directly to ATIA’s table.
“These caucuses are all about bringing people together, working through issues and then presenting final solutions to government presenting those unique differences that we need in our policies as we're drafting them and refining them. We can have those discussions in those caucuses,” Long said.
“It's all focused on building a more inclusive and empowered industry so we can drive overall success for the industry and all the participants in it.”
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