Marriott’s meetings moves revive airline commis-
sion fears, but cautionary tales abound. 12
IN OTHER NEWS
In Marriott’s cuts, some in industry see path to tiered commissions for groups 6
We have been looking for the world’s best
travel consultant for several years. 33
LABOR’S NUMBERS ARE CONTRADICTORY, PREDICTING DROPS THAT DON’T HAPPEN
How many travel agents in U.S.?
Depends on whom you’re asking
By Jamie Biesiada
The Department of Labor’s Bureau
of Labor Statistics (BLS) continues
to predict a decline in the number
of travel agents in the U.S. over the
next 10 years, despite strong evidence from the industry suggesting
the opposite is true.
Even Labor’s own statistics paint a picture
that is out of sync with its predictions.
The latest numbers from Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, updated in the
fall, tallied 81,700 agents in the U.S. in 2016
but predicted a 12% decline over the decade
from 2016 to 2026.
The bureau’s previous count of agents also
predicted a 12% decline in the number of
agents between 2014 and 2024. However, it
stated that in 2014, there were 74,100 travel
agents in the U.S.
In fact, Labor’s own numbers show that
from 2014 to 2016, the number of agents actually increased 10.3%, yet the bureau continues to predict a decline.
Its reasoning, as stated in the Occupational
Outlook Handbook, is as follows:
“The ability of travelers to use the internet to research vacations and book their own
trips is expected to continue to suppress demand for travel agents. Job prospects should
be best for travel agents who specialize in
specific destinations or particular types of
ASTA strongly disputes Labor’s notion
that agents are on the decline in the U.S.
“We really question the pessimism that
BLS continues to publish,” said Mark
When it comes to fast WiFi on planes,
expect huge improvements — slowly
By Robert Silk
If you’re tired of sluggish WiFi in the skies,
rest assured that the times and technologies
are changing rapidly, though actual improvements will probably come more slowly than
many passengers might hope.
During 2017, the availability of high-speed
WiFi on airliners more than doubled worldwide, according to the Routehappy 2018
WiFi report, which the airline merchandising platform provider released last week. And
the trend is likely to continue apace this year.
“The percentage of aircraft is going to
shoot straight up in 2018,” predicted Route-
happy director of airline research Jason Rabi-
nowitz. “I’d say it might double this year.”
Among flights that have WiFi, airlines
now offer passengers a chance to enjoy what
Routehappy categorizes as “best WiFi” on
16% of available seat miles. By comparison,
best WiFi was available on just 7.2% of seat
miles a year ago.
Routehappy defines best WiFi as a ser-
vice that is capable of streaming movies and
other media at speeds and qualities similar to
what one would expect at home.
The 129% jump in best WiFi, Rabinow-
itz said, is a result of in-flight WiFi provid-
ers Gogo and Inmarsat becoming significant
players in the high-speed WiFi market. That
market was previously dominated by Viasat,
which provides service to JetBlue and to
United’s mainline Boeing 737 fleet.
Today, Delta operates more than 350 air-
craft equipped with Gogo’s high-speed, dual-
antenna, 2KU product, which is also being
fitted now on aircraft operated by American,
Alaska, British Airways and Iberia.
See WIFI on Page 36
See NUMBERS on Page 34
IN THE HOT SEAT EXCLUSIVE ON TRAVELWEEKLY.COM MARK PESTRONK
ASTA CEO Zane Kerby discusses the ramifications of Marriott’s group commission cut. 4
ARC’s paper on best practices for resolving
debit memos is well worth checking out. 7
How millennials are changing
BY MEAGAN DRILLINGER PAGE 14
THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY’S TRUSTED VOICE