Gai A. Spann, Shawnta Harrison and Veranda Adkins, co-founders of the Association of Black Travel Professionals (ABTP), talk with James Shillinglaw of Insider Travel Report about why they are forming the group at this time,
Gai A. Spann, Shawnta Harrison, and Veranda Adkins are leading this initiative as co-founders. It is their “wish to demonstrate the impact of the spending power Black travel professionals bring to the travel industry by creating a resource for industry suppliers to access a vetted talent pool and tap into our membership to increase leadership and recognition.”
With their extensive knowledge in the travel industry, the three women hope to elevate existing and new Black travel advisors through educational initiatives, an Awards Gala to recognize top professionals of color, and conduct partnerships with companies that make commitments to diversity and representation in travel and tourism.
We wanted to learn more about ABTP and what Black travel advisors might expect when they join the organization, so we spoke with co-founder, Gai A. Spann. She has over 16 years of experience, starting as a top travel agent with Liberty Travel before launching her own agency, SPANNing the Globe Tours.
Check out what she has to say about ABTP and why this is an exciting endeavor for Black travel advisors and the travel industry as a whole.
TravelPulse: What prompted you and the other ABTP co-founders to create this association?
Gai A. Spann: The idea to create ABTP has been a long time coming. Having been in the travel industry for over 35 years combined, myself and my co-founders noticed certain trends such as: a lack of Black agents being recognized and invited to participate in high profile events, Black travel professionals in leadership positions as BDM’s or higher positions with suppliers, images included in marketing materials, and more.
We believe there is a significant gap in the achievement of Black travel professionals that is a result of our specific demographic being overlooked.
Spann: ABTP provides proprietary training on our member’s-only LMS system. We offer an ABTP industry number, specialist certification through our ABTP Certified Program, a robust consumer website to promote our member’s business, advocacy for the progression of Black travel professionals in the industry, Beyond Travel Leadership Forum, and the first Awards Gala celebrating the success of the best Black travel professionals and companies making strides in diversity.
Spann: Our training seminars are held each Tuesday. Each week focuses on one of four subjects: business development, supplier training, destination training, and cultural exploration. We want suppliers to know that our members mean business and are invested in their industry knowledge and success.
Spann: Before we started ABTP, we did our research to find out what statistics existed in terms of the number of active Black travel agents and what is the impact in terms of revenue in the travel industry. No surprise to find out there is no source to validate the number of active Black travel professionals.
There was a recent and extensive study released by MMGY that now tracks the Black consumer spending at $109 billion dollars, and although this number is significant, the study left out the impact of the Black travel professionals who are responsible for booking a majority of this travel.
We are offering the ABTP industry number for qualified agents to use with suppliers to book travel. The use of the ABTP number will create an aggregation of all the bookings of Black travel professionals, and therefore, provide a way to show the impact of Black travel professionals.
Spann: The travel industry like most industries is coming to terms with a disparity when it comes to diversity. Without much diversity in leadership positions, companies struggle with how to approach solutions.
ABTP is in a unique position to be a solution for the industry. We can identify issues and assist companies to address them positively.
Agents should know that we are focused on elevating them and our success.
On Martin Luther King Day, it seems appropriate that we take note of the launch of a new group, the Association of Black Travel Professionals (ABTP). In the making for a long time, according to its founders, ABTP is led by Gai A.
The Association of Black Travel Professionals (ABTP) was established as the premier organization focused on the development, growth and certification of Black Travel Professionals.