What ASATA does

ASATA implements several initiatives and has run numerous projects to ensure the professionalism, credibility and sustainability of the travel industry:

ASATA Professional Programme

The ASATA Professional Programme (APP) is an online system that recognises travel agents’ expertise, qualifications and practical skills to achieve professional recognition by ASATA and ultimately, a professional designation of Travel Practitioner or Travel Advisor.

ASATA is the only local travel industry body to be accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority as a professional body. As such, it is the only association that can award a travel consultant a designation.

“ASATA’s continuous investment in the APP over the last eight years is evidence of ASATA’s commitment to developing and nurturing the skills growth, and highest service delivery standards in the South African travel and tourism industries,” says CEO Otto De Vries.

The importance of the APP

  • Over time the APP helps to identify skills gaps in the industry, which will assist in planning training initiatives, workshops with suppliers and training providers.
  • It can be used to draw statistical data based on levels of expertise, different demographics and identify emerging trends in the industry.
  • Thus, it can target specific areas for appropriate workshops for training purposes.
  • The APP promotes the travel industry as a career of choice for school leavers and the currently employed.
  • It also helps grow a talent pool and retain professional individuals.

21st Century Travel Agent

In December 2014 ASATA conducted a nation-wide study into what it means to be an effective travel agent or travel management company (TMC) in the 21st Century.

To be as effective as possible, travel agents must meet the needs of the 21st Century traveller who:

  • wants unique experiences tailored to their priorities
  • wants to take control of their own itineraries
  • wants to be seen as an individual
  • wants to receive personalised information and offers
  • uses several digital devices

The study concluded that:

  • To compete effectively, Travel Agents will have to differentiate themselves by using their travel expertise, knowledge and experience to do something that their online competitors can’t do, namely provide a personal service that meets the traveller’s unique needs, interests and preferences.

The study suggested that focus be applied to these areas to make improvements:

  • Training: Travel consultant training needs to move beyond the traditional (only) technical nature and be more customer-centric
  • Business models: TMCs should forget about relying on a transaction fee and instead focus on knowing how to protect and serve travellers through the trip cycle. Under this model, TMCs compete on their safety and service capabilities.
  • Innovation: Embrace technology-led innovation to disrupt practices no longer adding value to businesses
  • Leadership: Employ courageous, visionary leaders to take charge of the change required to overcome the challenges TMCs and travel consultants face.

Living ASATA

Living ASATA is the member campaign that drives pride in being an ASATA member, pride in members’ brands, and pride in being a 21st Century Travel Agent.

ASATA membership is a vital part of ensuring the credibility both within the travel industry and in the eyes of the travel-purchasing consumer – business or leisure.

The Living ASATA campaign has the following focus areas:

  • Collective Power – Currently ASATA represents more than 95% of the industry.
  • The Voice of Industry – ASATA interacts with industry leaders, regulatory bodies and government, steers policy, planning and regulation. ASATA is represented several Boards, Committees and Forums both locally and internationally.
  • Industry Consensus and Policy – ASATA’S Members Advisory Forums are tasked to deliver real outcomes on industry matters, ensure members adopt best business practice, remain legally compliant and show purpose and opinion on how the industry should function.
  • Risk Management – ASATA’s employs a strict Code of Conduct, Financial Criteria and initiatives to promote good governance among members.
  • Training and Development – ASATA’s Professional Programme, advises on relevant curricula for tertiary institutions and represents the travel industry on several academic forums.
  • Media – ASATA engages with Trade and Consumer Media to voice opinion and be heard on matters effecting Industry.
  • Communication – ASATA employs traditional communication methods (online and print trade; and consumer press), has an updated website, hosts informative webinars, is active on such social media and runs a weekly members’ newsletter.
  • Legal – The association assists in dispute resolution and provides guidance and advice.
  • Promoting our Industry – ASATA constantly highlights the value and role of the ITC and TMC.

Travel with Peace of Mind

ASATA promises consumers that if they seek out the ASATA logo and entrust their travel in the hands of an ASATA member, they will be guaranteed:

  • Professional Service
  • Ethical Conduct
  • Trustworthy Behaviour
  • Market Leadership

… so they can Travel with Peace of Mind.

Why travel with an ASATA-accredited travel agent?

A Travel Agent should be a professional who has the qualifications, know-how and skills to assist travellers with all their travel needs. Travellers who choose an accredited ASATA member are assured that they are working with a professional Travel Management Company or Travel Agent that is not only bound by a strict code of conduct, but also believes in ethical and professional provision of travel services.

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SA Travel Market Index

In 2017 ASATA commissioned Grant Thornton to create a South African Travel Market Index Report to determine the state and size of South Africa’s travel sector.

The objective of the study was to create an accurate picture of the travel market in South Africa which can be utilised by ASATA and its members for strategic management. This was the first time such a study and in-depth analysis had been undertaken in South Africa.

How big is the Travel Industry?

  • In South Africa there are around 15 large, national travel groups, 13 of which are ASATA members. These travel groups each have one or more well-known travel brands, many of which are home-grown South African brands. Some have international brands acquired via license/ other affiliations or they are part of an international group.
  • In total, there are 1741 travel agencies branches or outlets (including TMCs and ITCs) in South Africa that are members of ASATA of which 1670 are linked to the 13 large travel groups.

Important facts about the SA Travel Industry

  • The predominant business model for SA travel agencies is that of Independent Travel Consultant (ITC). Close to 64% of all travel agents operate under this model (1 100).
  • The South African travel sector is concentrated in the country’s 3 economically strong and populous provinces, viz:
    • Gauteng with 46% of all travel branches/ outlets,
    • the Western Cape with 30% of all branches/ outlets and
    • KwaZulu-Natal with 12% of all branches/ outlets.
  • In 2017, close to R24 bn was spent on air travel through ASATA-affiliated travel agencies, TMCs and ITCs.
  • Spend on air travel represents 60% of the total travel spend through ASATA affiliated travel agencies, TMCs and ITCs.
  • The total value of accommodation and venue bookings processed by ASATA affiliated members in 2017 was close to R9 bn.
  • Spend on accommodation and venues represents 22% of the total travel spend through ASATA affiliated travel agencies, TMCs and ITCs.
  • Close to 9 000 people are directly employed in the travel sector, of which 8 300 are ASATA affiliated.
  • 5% of all employees are in executive management or part of the board of directors and 19% are in senior or middle management roles.
  • Although not yet representative of the racial demographics of the country, in 2017 nearly two thirds of all employees in the travel sector were black (black African, coloured or Indian) and 36% were white.

ASATA Innovation Summit

An industry as dynamic as retail travel is challenged to reinvent itself continuously. Our role as the association representing more than 90% of South Africa’s travel sector is to ensure that our members are equipped to deal with the rapidly evolving consumer demand and technological development which affects us all.

ASATA’s Innovation Summit was a full-day of panel discussions and addresses by global thought leaders in the areas most affecting the advancement and innovation of the travel industry. Industry game-changing topics like the New Distribution Capability (NDC) and the future of Travel Payments were discussed.

The Summit saw global travel experts and local industry leaders including airlines, technology providers and government stakeholders meeting to partake in the discussions, network with their peers and to share their own opinions and ideas on key issues affecting the travel industry.

The Travel Summit

The summit featured such topics as BSP Remittance Cycle Changes, how to communicate your value to customers, the biggest risks facing travel agents today and how the expectations of leisure and corporate customers are changing. An expert speaker also presented innovative ways how to deliver seamless customer service across platforms and devices.