The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) announced today that at its most recent meeting in Los Angeles (Sept. 9), the board of directors voted unanimously to approve a change to its US Travel Agency member structure that extends ASTA’s benefits to all member agency employees and changes travel agency members’ dues from a flat-fee to a tiered structure based on sales volume.

“This change to the dues structure—the first since 2008—is necessary in order to allow ASTA to expand upon its industry advocacy efforts and continue to deliver exceptional benefits to members,” said Nina Meyer, ASTA president and chair, in a prepared statement.

“This new model, which comes as the result of in-depth member research, takes a balanced approach to the financial contribution of each agency and brings ASTA’s pricing practices in line with those of most other trade associations. We found that the value of ASTA membership supports a dues change, and felt that it is the right move to keep ASTA going forward.”

According to ASTA, the new plan will provide travel agency member employees with access to a full range of online benefits and resources, including a profile on ASTA’s consumer website TravelSense.org; invitations to chapter events; and the opportunity to serve on their chapter’s committees.

“This new dues plan seeks to equalize the playing field while allowing an even larger group of travel agents to take advantage of ASTA’s robust roster of benefits,” added Meyer. “We have worked hard to develop unparalleled programs and tools designed to help save our members time and money so they can focus on what is most important – selling travel.”

Under the new tiered structure, agencies with sales of less than $5 million will see an increase of less than $20 and pay $295. Agencies with sales between $5 million and $10 million will pay $495. Those with sales between $10 million and $25 million will pay $695, while those with sales between $25 million and $35 million will pay $895; and those with sales between $35 million and $50 million will pay $1,295. Agencies with sales greater than $50 million will have the option to become Premium members at the $2,500 rate. (The option of joining as a Premium member will remain for all travel agents regardless of sales volume.) Each company will have one vote.

Going forward, travel agents who are employed by a non-member agency, as well as independent contractors may join as non-affiliated members at the lowest tier and will have one vote. Travel agents who are employed by a member agency and wish to have voting rights may purchase a separate membership at the lowest tier.

For renewing members, the dues change will go into effect on the anniversary of their membership renewal, effective Jan. 1, 2013. New travel agent members who join prior to Jan. 1 will do so at the current $277 rate, while those who join after the effective date will do so under the new dues structure.

ASTA member benefits include representation on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures, education resources, consumer outreach and professional networking opportunities, news updates and industry alerts, and exclusive access to ASTA’s logo.

Premium members receive such additional benefits as direct access to ASTA’s staff experts in government and industry affairs, as well as experts in the legal and research departments, customized research and access to invitation-only business networking forums and summits.

ASTA’s mission statement is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. The organization seeks a retail travel marketplace that is profitable and growing and a rewarding field in which to work, invest and do